The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge

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Refuge headquarters near Williamstown, WV
Blennerhassett Island

Follows Ohio River: Brooke County, Cabell County, Hancock County, Jackson County, Marshall County, Mason County, Ohio County, Pleasants County, Tyler County, Wood County, Wetzel County

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge protects 3,300 acres of native wildlife habitat in the floodplain of the Ohio River along the Ohio and West Virginia border. The refuge consists of 22 islands and three mainland tracts that are gradually being returned to their original forested conditions. Thousands of anglers, hunters, and naturalists visit the refuge every year.

Fishing: Some of the best fishing in the Ohio River can be found among the refuge islands. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, white bass, and channel and flathead catfish are among the river's most popular gamefish. All refuge islands are open to fishing under West Virginia regulations. Bank fishing in the refuge is permitted from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset. There are no hourly restrictions on boat fishing.

Hunting: Most property in the refuge is open to hunting, though special regulations are in effect. A West Virginia Hunting License is required, and all hunters must carry the refuge's free hunt brochure, which serves as a permit. An updated brochure is required annually. Game include archery deer, dove, rabbit, squirrel, and waterfowl.

Auto and Boat Tours: Most refuge islands are accessibly only by boat. However, Middle Island, at Saint Marys, WV, is accessible by bridge and provides a 1.5-mile auto tour through bottomland and reclaimed hardwood forest. A self-guided boat tour of Muskingum Island, near Vienna, WV, interprets this elongated island's natural and cultural history. Boat-tour brochures are available at the Muskingum Island information sign and at refuge headquarters in Parkersburg.

Wildlife Observation: A 1.5 mile nature trail on Middle Island provides an easy means of exploring a range of habitats. A 1,000-foot barrier-free segment of the trail leads to a wildlife-viewing blind that overlooks a small wetland (where migrating waterfowl and shorebirds feed in spring). The road on Middle Island provides another good place to see fox, deer, rabbit, groundhog, and various birds. Boaters will find that open expanses of river near the islands are frequented by osprey, belted kingfishers, great blue herons, and other river birds. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to oberve the local wildlife.

For more information, visit the [http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=51660 Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge] website, post P.O. Box 1811, Parkersburg, WV 26102; or call 304-422-0752