Guam National Wildlife Refuge

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Guam National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Ritidian Beach - Guam NWR.jpg
The beach off Ritidian Point
Map showing the location of Guam National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Guam National Wildlife Refuge
Ritidian Point Unit
Location Dededo / Yigo, Guam, United States
Nearest city Dededo, Guam / Yigo, Guam
Coordinates 13°39′2″N 144°51′38″E / 13.65056°N 144.86056°E / 13.65056; 144.86056Coordinates: 13°39′2″N 144°51′38″E / 13.65056°N 144.86056°E / 13.65056; 144.86056
Area 23,659 acres (95.74 km2) total
23,288 acres (94.24 km2) land
371 acres (1.50 km2) reefs and ocean [1]
Established 1993
Visitors 90,000
Governing body Department of Defense 22,456 acres (90.88 km2); Fish and Wildlife Service 1,203 acres (4.87 km2)
Website Guam National Wildlife Refuge

The Guam National Wildlife Refuge protects Ritidian Point and unused military land in the United States territory of Guam. The focus of much of the efforts involves the suppression of invasive exotics to protect endemic species. The reserve consists of eight mostly non-contiguous units.

Ritidian Point Unit[edit]

The endangered Mariana fruit bat or flying fox

Ritidian Point is at the far northern point of Guam and is the only unit open to the public. The Navy used the area as a high-security communications station throughout the Cold War and donated the 1,203 acres (4.87 km2) of land to the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1993. Guam's Delegate to Congress at that time, Robert A. Underwood, objected to the transfer as a violation of indigenous Chamorro land rights for not returning the property to the pre-military owners.[2] Sailors from the USS Frank Cable continued the Navy connection by volunteering and creating a nature path for visitors.[3] The Ritidian Unit offices and beaches close to the public at 4 PM every day. They are also closed any time the Guam Homeland Security Office of Civil Defense issues a tropical cyclone condition of readiness 3, 2, or 1. Additionally, the beaches are closed to the public during tropical storm warnings issued by the National Weather Service.[4]

Ritidian Point contains the archaeological site of a pre-Magellan Chamorro village, a former barrier reef that is now a 500-foot limestone cliff and beaches where threatened green sea turtles nest.[5] This area is the only designated critical habitat in Guam because it is home to some of the last confirmed populations of the Mariana fruit bat, Guam kingfisher, Mariana common moorhen and Mariana crow.[6] The accidental introduction of the brown tree snake is considered the primary cause for the decline of native Guam bird species and the Reserve uses specially trained dogs to hunt them.[7]

Military overlay units[edit]

There are seven additional mostly non-contiguous units, one on Andersen Air Force Base and six on various Navy properties. In total, the military owns 95% of the Refuge, 22,456 acres (90.88 km2), and does not allow tourism. The areas are considered an overlay because military needs take precedence but the Fish and Wildlife Service has consulting rights.[8] The areas may face additional stress because of the movement of troops from Okinawa.

These units are largely forested and the main preservation initiative involves the Serianthes nelsonii tree. The critically endangered plant is endemic to the southern Marianas Islands and only one mature tree is known in Guam. Efforts to plant new seedlings have been coordinated through the University of Guam.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schwagerl, Joseph. "Guam National Wildlife Refuge". US Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  2. ^ "Guam National Wildlife Refuge Under Fire". Bats Magazine. Winter 1993. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  3. ^ Hensley, Corey (2011-04-08). "Frank Cable Celebrates Trail Dedication At Guam National Wildlife Refuge". United States Navy. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  4. ^ "Typhoons". Guam Homeland Security Office of Civil Defense. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Whitman, Frank (2007-06-03). "Ritidian Point: A gorgeous slice of tropical Guam". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  6. ^ Maxfield, Barbara (2009-07-22). "Guam National Wildlife Refuge Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan Released for Public Review and Comment" (PDF). US Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  7. ^ Pianka, Eric R.; King, Dennis; King, Ruth Allen. (2004). Varanoid Lizards of the World. Indiana University Press, 588 pages ISBN 0-253-34366-6
  8. ^ "Welcome to Guam National Wildlife Refuge". US Fish and Wildlife Service. 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  9. ^ Serianthes nelsonii, poster by Agricultural Experiment Station, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Guam

External links[edit]