This Wildlife Refuge In Oregon Was The First Of Its Kind West Of The Mississippi
Oregon is just chock-full of natural beauty, and if you want to view and appreciate wildlife, this is the certainly the place to be. Oregon is home to 21 national wildlife refuges, but the state’s first also has the distinction of being the first of its kind west of the Mississippi. Take a look:
In the early 1900s, no national wildlife refuges existed west of the Mississippi. The concept of setting aside public lands for the preservation of local wildlife populations was still a fairly new concept. Childhood friends William L. Finley and Herman Bohlman visited the Oregon coast in 1901 and again in 1903 to photograph the wildlife there.
What they found made them sick. While they were visiting the Three Rocks one Sunday, a tugboat pulled close to the large rocks, and target shooters proceeded to kill hundreds of sea birds and stellar sea lions. While the sea lions were harvested or their pelts and oil, the bird carcasses were left to rot.
William Finley visited President Theodore Roosevelt to lobby for protection for the wild creatures at Three Arch Rocks. While the President was enthusiastic, it took four years of lobbying before he declared Three Arch Rocks a National Wildlife Refuge on October 14, 1907.
This beautiful refuge is not only the first of its kind west of the Mississippi, it's also the smallest - just 15 acres. And, for most visitors, it's best viewed from afar.
While the wildlife refuge is made up of three large, arched rocks and six smaller rocks, the three largest are closed to the public. The rocks - Finley Rock, Middle Rock, and Shag Rock are all nearly impossible to traverse anyway - they're steep, slippery, and covered in bird guano.
One way to see the three arch rocks up close is by kayak - but you'll want to make the expedition between September 16th and April 30th. No watercraft is allowed within 500 feet of the rocks between May 1st and September 15th to avoid human interaction with the sensitive species who use them for breeding grounds and nurseries.
Seal Rock is located on the sanctuary's east side, and it's the only pupping site for the stellar sea lion on the northern Oregon coast. In April and May you might see little pups on the rocks and even on the beach, but remember to always keep your distance to avoid stressing these majestic animals.
Visitors to Three Arch Rocks will see many different bird species. The common murre once flocked to the rocks by the hundreds of thousands for breeding, but has declined in population due to the return of bald eagles. You'll still see a few hanging around, though.
Other feathered residents include the California brown pelican...
...as well as the black oystercatcher, tufted puffins, and pigeon guillemots (pictured here).
Enjoy a stroll on the beach...
... or a picnic lunch with an ocean view, and don't forget to bring your camera along. The first national wildlife refuge west of the Mississippi might also be the smallest, but its natural beauty is plentiful.
Have you visited Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge? Get more information about this gorgeous coastal spot on its
Looking for more Oregon wildlife? Check out
this magical place where you can view a wild elk herd.
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