Exploring the Nisqually Delta

Operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the 12.6 square kilometer Nisqually Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 to provide habitat and nesting areas for waterfowl and other migratory birds.  It is located just off of I-5 between Tacoma and Olympia, so it’s a close place to go explore any time of year, no matter what the weather.

In 2009, 4 miles of the Brown Farm Dike were removed allowing the tidal flows along Puget Sound to reclaim 762 acres of the estuary.  Built in 1904, the Brown Farm Dike was five miles long and was built to protect farmland from the tidal surge; however, there are both good and bad consequences for every decision made.  In this case, valuable farmland was protected, but it also resulted in the loss of important habitat for young birds, fish, and marine mammals.

Sunset at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

Sunset at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

  As part of the restoration efforts, a one mile elevated wooden boardwalk was built, allowing visitors to walk from the freshwater wetlands to the salt marsh.  At the beginning of the boardwalk is a viewing tower with a spotting scope.  Further out you come to the Shannon Slough Viewing Blind and the McAllister Creek Viewing Platform before reaching the end of the boardwalk at the Puget Sound Viewing Platform.  Please be aware that the last 700 feet of boardwalk is closed seasonally from early October through late January during the waterfowl hunting season.  

A one mile boardwalk at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge allows visitors to walk from freshwater wetlands to a salt marsh.

A one mile boardwalk at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge allows visitors to walk from freshwater wetlands to a salt marsh.

The view from the boardwalk out to the salt marsh.

The view from the boardwalk out to the salt marsh during high tide.

   As you walk on the boardwalk along the freshwater marshes, you can catch ducks feeding on aquatic plants

A duck feeds on the aquatic plants at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.  Unfortunately, I'm not much of a birder so I'm not sure what kind of duck this is.

A duck feeds on the aquatic plants at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a birder so I’m not sure what kind of duck this is.

Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) are quite common as they stalk their next meal.

A Great Blue Heron stalks its next meal at the Nisqually WIldlife Refuge.

A Great Blue Heron stalks its next meal at the Nisqually WIldlife Refuge.

Up in the trees, raptors are buy either stalking their prey or protecting it from squirrels that try to get a bit too close…

Red Tailed Hawk

The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge is open 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset.  So no matter what the weather is, grab your camera and your binoculars and come explore what is happening…

Nisqually Path

Until the next adventure….

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