The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge system, located in between Olympia, Washington and Tacoma, Washington, where the Nisqually River joins The Puget Sound. The refuge is currently around 4600 acres, or around 8 square miles. The main body of the refuge is located on the Puget Sound, although there are plans to add an administratively connected unit southwest of Olympia, Washington. The refugee was founded as the Nisqually NWR in 1974 and was renamed for Native American environmental advocate Billy Frank Jr. in 2015, shortly after his death.
Like most of the National Wildlife Refuges in the Pacific Northwest west of the Cascades, the main purpose of this Refuge is to provide shelter for migrating birds, although it also provides shelter for resident birds, mammals, reptiles and other animals. Since the refuge is located directly adjacent to Olympia, Joint Base Lewis-McCord and the I-5 Freeway, it is not a likely home for predatory megafauna, such as the american black bear or the puma.
As is often the case with other parts National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Northwest, such as Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge close to Portland, Oregon, what is most conspicuous about the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge is that it is the only federally protected wild life area on the eastern shore of the Puget Sound. While there are many other types of protected natural areas, such as Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park, the eight square miles of Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually are the only federally protected area for wildlife along the entire eastern shore of The Puget Sound. And the natural delta of the Nisqually River is the only natural delta of the rivers draining into the Puget Sound: the Puyallup River in Tacoma, and the Green River in Seattle have been channelized and used for industrial purposes to the point where it is hard to recognize them as natural rivers. Despite the area's current reputation for environmental consciousness, that only happened after a hundred years of ruthless natural resource extraction, and decades of suburban sprawl. Now, at least on the eastern side of the Puget Sound, the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is one of the few places to see what the natural shoreline ecosystem would have been like.