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John Heinz National
Wildlife Refuge
86 Linbergh Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19153
Cross Street: 59th Street
General Information
The refuge grounds are free of charge and open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. The Cusano Environmental Education Center, also free of charge, is open from 8:30 AM till 4:00 PM daily, but will be closed on all federal holidays.

In the early 1600s when Swedish settlers made their first landfall in what is now called Tinicum Township in Pennsylvania, Tinicum Marsh comprised over 5,000 acres. The settlers immediately began to dike and drain the wetlands in order to create farms; nevertheless, the bulk of the wetland acreage remained intact until the mid-1900s when the Corps of Engineers filled over 4,000 acres with dredge spoils from the nearby Delaware River. Ultimate plans for the area included industrial development.

In the 1960s and 1970s, this action was followed by the establishment of two solid waste landfills in the marsh, also planned as the first step in eventual industrial development.

Concurrently with the landfill development, plans were implemented to build Interstate 95 right through Tinicum's wetlands, resulting in massive dredging and filling, which further reduced Tinicum's wetland acreage.

  Local citizens, alarmed by all these activities, formed a grassroots organization, simultaneously fighting to close the landfills, divert the highway, and persuade the United States Congress to designate the remaining wetlands of Tinicum Marsh as a National Wildlife Refuge.

  The highway was diverted, the landfills were closed, and finally in 1972, the refuge was created by Congress.

  • Volunteer: Every year, hundreds of dedicated volunteers devote their time and talents to the Refuge. Last year, over 8,000 hours of volunteer time were donated to the Refuge. Even before Tinicum was a National Wildlife Refuge, volunteerism was strong here. It was local citizens who volunteered their time, energy, and enthusiasm, to save Tinicum marsh from development in the early 1970s. Their hard work and dedication convinced local politicians that Tinicum was a resource worth protecting. Tinicum was designated a wildlife Refuge in 1972. Since then, volunteers have worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on public programs, biological monitoring, habitat maintenance, and trail work. Currently, 25% of all work completed for the Refuge is done by our dedicated volunteers!
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