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Key West National Wildlife Refuge

Key West National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds and other wildlife. This refuge was the first established in the Florida Keys and one of the earliest refuges in the United States. The refuge encompasses more than 200,000 acres with only 2,000 acres of land. The area is home to more than 250 species of birds and is important for sea turtle nesting. The islands are predominately mangrove with a few beaches and salt ponds.

Getting There . . .
The refuge is accessible only by boat. However, the refuge is administered as part of the National Key Deer Refuge headquartered on Big Pine Key, which is 100- miles south of Miami. The visitor center is located 1/4-mile north of the traffic light on Key Deer Boulevard in the Big Pine Key Shopping Plaza. The visitor center can be reached at 305-872-0774.


All of the islands in the refuge are designated as a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Designated wilderness areas are managed to minimize human impacts and influences and to let natural processes occur without intervention. The refuge limits human use and influence in order to preserve the quality, character, and integrity of these protected wilderness lands.

Refuge beaches are important nesting areas for Green, Hawksbill, and Loggerhead sea turtles. Beaches on the refuge islands are very narrow and provide limited area for sea turtles to nest, thus human access is restricted. Nests are also much shallower than on mainland beaches since turtles create nests that will not be inundated by water at high tides. Walking on top of these nests can break the eggs contained within.

Key West National Wildlife Refuge
28950 Watson Boulevard
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
Phone Number: 305-872-0774
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:

Information provided by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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