Located near the mouth of the Coquille River in Bandon is the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Nearly 900 acres, it protects the largest remaining tidal salt marsh within the Coquille estuary. It is an oasis for migrating shorebirds, salmon, and waterfowl as well as threatened and endangered species such as the bald eagle and California brown pelican.
The Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is made up of two units: Bandon Marsh and Ni-les’tun.
The Bandon Marsh Unit features mudflats that are rich with clams, crabs, worms and shrimp, attracting an assortment of birds, attracting an assortment of birdwatchers. Birdwatchers are treated to sandpipers, plovers, whimbrels, and more, and from the Bandon Marsh observation deck off of Riverside Drive, herons and falcons can be seen. The observation deck also offers environmental education and photography. It is easily accessible by foot, stroller and wheelchair from a small parking area. Stairs lead to the mudflats where visitors take advantage of more photography and clamming opportunities.
To find the Bandon Marsh Unit, drive north on Riverside Drive from Old Town approximately one mile, and park in the refuge parking area on the west (left) side of the road.
The Ni-les’tun Unit was established for the protection and restoration of marshes and riparian zones where the river interfaces with the land. These areas are important habitat for birds and fish. In fall, 2011, marsh restoration was completed, and mudflats and marsh plants can re-establish. The restored land will be able to once again function as an intertidal marsh where flocks of migratory birds and young fish can flourish. Visitors can view wildlife and their habitat from the Peter DeFazio Marsh overlook off of North Bank Lane.
To find the Ni-les’tun Unit, drive north on Highway 101 out of Bandon. Shortly after crossing the bridge over the Coquille River, turn right on Fahy Creek Road, and drive east to North Bank Lane. Turn right on North Bank Lane and drive approximately one mile. The parking area and observation deck are on the south side of the road.
For more information, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bandon Marsh website.