The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and provides numerous recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Whether boating, walking the trails, or participating in educational programs, visitors enjoy viewing the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife. Regulation of recreation activities allows for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats. The Nisqually estuary was restored in 2009 by removing dikes and reconnecting 762 acres with the tides of Puget Sound. This is the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwest and an important step in the recovery of Puget Sound. Many visitors, especially birders and boaters, have found that it is best to plan a visit to the Refuge according to the tides. The highest concentrations of the estuarine bird species will be most visible within two hours of high tide. The Visitor Center includes The Nature Shop, an information desk, a view of the freshwater marsh, and interpretive exhibits.
Educational Facilities include the Refuge’s Environmental Education Center and four miles of flat boardwalk & gravel trails. The Environmental Education Center is open by appointment only. Educational groups Pre-K through college may request use of the Environmental Education Center and assistance from Refuge Educators.
The Refuge’s Environmental Education Programming is designed to meet the needs of visiting groups. Please contact our education coordinator to plan your trip. Indoor activities cover a wide range of wildlife-related topics including:
- Animal Adaptations
- Animal Tracks & Signs
- Bird Identification
- Developing Observation Skills
- Citizen Science
Four field trip orientation workshops are conducted each year. We encourage all educators planning a trip to the Refuge to attend to get all the tools you need to confidently guide your students on a meaningful outdoor learning experience. You will be introduced to our hands-on indoor activities in our Environmental Education Center, hike the Twin Barns Loop Trail, and learn about one of the largest restoration projects in the Puget Sound! Refreshments will be provided. Dates can be found on the Refuge’s website.
Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
Volunteer & Internship Opportunities exist with the Refuge’s Environmental Education program as well as other programs at the Refuge. More than 42,000 people volunteer their time and ideas each year to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Whether they work on the land, in a visitor center, or with youth, they contribute to the conservation mission that reaches back more than a century. Become a volunteer to contribute your strength on behalf of America’s natural resources.