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Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge: Wikis

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Coordinates: 28°31′00″N 80°40′00″W / 28.5166667°N 80.6666667°W / 28.5166667; -80.6666667

Ibises, Roseate Spoonbills & Egrets @ Merritt Island NWR.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is an important U.S. National Wildlife Refuge on the Atlantic coast of Florida. It is also a 'gateway site' for the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Contents

Location and extent

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is located due east of Titusville on Merritt Island in Brevard County, Florida, and occupies 570 square kilometres (140,000 acres). To the north, it borders on the Canaveral National Seashore; to the south it borders on the Kennedy Space Center (with which it also shares some history), which in turn abuts Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River run through the refuge. Since public access to all these areas is controlled in various ways, the refuge is part of a very substantial area of relatively undisturbed wildlife habitat.

History

The land occupied by the NWR was acquired by NASA in the early 1960s for the development of the Space Center and its non-operational purposes. Until that time there had been little development in the area because of the high number of salt marsh mosquitoes. Public access is normally permitted, and several state highways run across the refuge; however, the public can be excluded if necessary for NASA's purposes (for example, this is currently done in the days before a space shuttle launch or landing).

Habitats and species

Bald Eagles inhabit the refuge.

The refuge provides a range of habitats, from saltwater estuaries and freshwater impoundments and marshes, to dunes, hardwood hammocks, and scrub. It is therefore rich in over 1000 species of plants, 117 species of fish, 68 amphibians and reptiles, 330 birds, and 31 mammal species. Of these species, 21 are listed as endangered either by the state of Florida or by the US federal government. The following are some of the more important species using the refuge; most of them nest there:

Facilities

Subject to the needs of NASA, public access is relatively unrestricted, though it is only allowed during daylight hours; camping is only allowed for certain organised youth organizations.

The refuge provides hiking and driving trails for visitors, with excellent opportunities for observing wildlife without causing disturbance; most of the species listed above can be seen by a casual visitor. An observation deck is provided near the drawbridge that carries State Road 3 over the Haulover Canal, in the northern part of the refuge, since manatees frequently congregate there. Boating is permitted on the waters around and within the refuge, and provides another excellent opportunity for observing the wildlife; there are facilities for launching pleasure boats at several places. In addition the refuge includes, and gives access to the unspoilt Playalinda Beach on the outer barrier island. Fishing is generally permitted, and hunting for wildfowl is allowed on a strictly limited basis. There is a comprehensive Visitor Center.

Management

Water levels are controlled in most of the refuge, to conserve its wide range of habitats. Controlled fires are used regularly.

Merritt Island acts as an administrative centre for a number of other NWRs in central Florida, which are operated as satellites from it, including

Roads in the refuge

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Kennedy Parkway

Kennedy Parkway traverses through the John F. Kennedy Space Center and the refuge. In the John F. Kennedy Space Center, it is 12.21 miles long with a divided highway. North of Beach Road, it is two lanes wide. In total, it is 28.36 miles long, from the southern border of the Space Center to U.S. 1, near Oak Hill. North of Dummit Grove, it forms the western boundary of the Canaveral National Seashore.

External links


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