Our National Wildlife Refuge system began right here!☀️

14ACBB44-843F-41E0-BE13-48A692CED8C3_1_201_a The Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite birding spots here in Florida. 84A88946-7398-4359-BF41-42B1E87B9DE2Located just north of Vero Beach, Pelican Island NWR, established in 1903, has the distinction of being the very first National Wildlife Refuge. Thanks to the efforts of some very committed citizen advocates and a conservation-minded President, a system was created that now boasts more than 560 Wildlife Refuges nationwide, over a hundred years later!


The planks of the Pelican Island boardwalk list every one of these National Wildlife Refuge treasures, including the year in which each one was founded.

A9BE4AB9-1348-4A2C-9EC0-D9843D19411D_1_201_aIllustrated signs along the walkways provide a wealth of information about the history of Pelican Island and the Refuge system. Click here to learn much more!

“. . . since its designation in 1903, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge has stood as a testament to our nation’s commitment to the conservation of natural lands.”  It’s certainly up to us all now to maintain and preserve this commitment! 

28 thoughts on “Our National Wildlife Refuge system began right here!☀️

    • Thanks so much, Jet! Thankfully there were so many forward-thinking nature lovers in the early 1900s☺️. As you know, the national wildlife refuges, the national parks system, the Audubon Society …. all originated at about the same time, fortunately for all those who came afterward in the coming decades, including us!

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    • So true, we need to be so grateful for all those who advocated for these lands and wildlife to be cared for by preserving these spaces. That’s my husband’s photo, AB! He didn’t want me to mention him in the post, but I have to give credit for that beautiful cardinal shot!

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    • It’s a great spot to visit, Sue… and so special because it was the first NWR! Pelican Island is located between Vero Beach and Sebastian Inlet, on the east coast of Florida, about 3 hours north of the Everglades Ernest COE Visitor Center.


    • I agree about the boardwalk planks. As you walk along, it really makes you think about how this NWR system grew. Kudos to my hubby for the Cardinal shot. It was perched on a branch quite a long ways away, and I just couldn’t get it clearly. He took the camera and snapped this photo☺️


  1. It’s fantastic to think of how the work of those original conservationists has culminated in so many wildlife refuges today – imagine if they could see what their efforts led to!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Things would have been very grim without all their work. The comment on one of the boards about ‘the extermination of 80% of all bird life in Florida’ is horrific and shows how quickly wildlife was being lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing the history of the NWRs. Even though we just finished watching Ken Burns’s excellent 14 hour documentary, “The Roosevelts” (I highly recommend it), and I knew TR was behind the establishment of the refuge system, I didn’t know where the first one was located. Another destination to add to my Florida trip list–if I ever make it there! 🙂

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