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John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum
Conserving the Nature of America
 

Welcome

to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

Refuge grounds are open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset, free of charge.
The Cusano Environmental Education Center is open daily from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, free of charge.

The Cusano Environmental Education Center is closed for all Federal holidays.

Click here for a refuge map.

The main entrance to the Refuge at 86th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard in Southwest Philadelphia provides access to the Cusano Environmental Education Center, foot trails, fishing, and wildlife observation platform. There is an additional parking area located at west end of the Refuge, just north of I-95 on Route 420 which provides hiking and fishing access. 

Handicapped Accessible parking is available. If conditions permit, vehicles with an HP license are able to access the observation platform by car. Please stop by the Cusano Environmental Education Center or contact the refuge by phone if you have concerns about getting around on the refuge.
 

How to get here

Public Transportation

SEPTA's Route 37 and 108 buses both stop at 84th St. and Lindbergh Blvd.

SEPTA's Regional Rail Line has a stop at the Eastwick Station. This is several blocks southeast of the Refuge's Main Entrance at 86th St. and Lindbergh Blvd.

About the Refuge

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is administered by the Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania, about 1 mile from the Philadelphia International Airport.  The refuge was established by an act of Congress in 1972 to protect the last 200 acres of freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania.  When acquisition is complete, it will consist of 1200 acres of varied habitats. Over the years, the refuge has become a resting and feeding area for more than 280 species of birds, 80 of which nest here.  Fox, deer, muskrat, turtles, fish, frogs and a wide variety of wildflowers and plants call the refuge "home". 

 The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is one of more than 500 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.   The National Wildlife Refuge System is a network of lands and waters managed specifically for the protection of wildlife and its habitat. It represents the most comprehensive wildlife management program in the world.

Remember: The refuge has been set aside for wildlife. Please help protect them and visitors by respecting refuge rules.

Permitted:

  • Bicycling
  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Canoeing - in designated areas
  • Fishing - with a license in designated areas
  • Pets on a leash

Prohibited:

  • Hunting
  • Pets off a leash
  • Ice Skating
  • Motorcycles
  • Feeding Wildlife
  • Removing or collecting plants or animals

History

The history of Tinicum Marsh, the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetland Pennsylvania goes back to the first settlements in the region in 1634.  Swedes, Dutch and English diked and drained parts of the marsh for grazing.  At that time, the tidal marshes measured over 5,700 acres. The rapid urbanization since World War I, reduced tidal marshes to approximately 200 acres. The remnant of this once vast tidal marsh is protected by the refuge.

A diked, non-tidal area of 145 acres, adjacent to the eastern end of Tinicum marsh, was donated by the Gulf Oil Corporation to the City of Philadelphia in 1955. This area, administered for the benefit of wildlife and people, was known as Tinicum Wildlife Preserve.  The areas of open water along with the adjacent heavily vegetated tidal wetlands, formed an ideal habitat for thousands of migratory waterfowl.

In 1969, the remaining area was threatened by plans to route Interstate 95 through it and by a sanitary landfill on the tidal wetlands.  These activities started a long series of injunctions, public hearings and extraordinary efforts by private and public groups to secure rerouting of the highway and termination of the landfill operation. Under legislation passed by Congress in 1972, authorization was given to the Secretary of the Interior to acquire 1200 acres to establish the Tinicum National Environmental Center.

In November 1991, in a bill sponsored by Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA), the name of the refuge was changed to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum to honor the late Senator who helped preserve Tinicum Marsh.  


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