In 1969 Mason Neck became the first national wildlife refuge and became federally protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge was originally 845 acres encompassing the bottom left of the peninsula. In 2010 the refuge was renamed the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge and now encompasses 2,277 acres. The 1960s did not have the same understanding of the importance of preserving living history in its natural state. Preserving living history and wildlife is a major reason why refuges are created today, with our current understanding of ecology. If that’s not the reason the refuge was created, it's important to analyze what caused Mason Neck, specifically, to become the location of the first wildlife refuge.
Using the findings of other historians and scientists helped establish three main motives that led to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create the Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge. This exhibit analyzes those three catalysts: they were the proposed residential development Kings Landing that would have absorbed the majority of the peninsula, Mason Neck resident Elizabeth Hartwell's fight towards the preservation of Mason Neck's bald eagle population, and the behavioral needs of bald eagles. These three main motives establish the start of preserving land in an act of environmental conservation. This is why the history of the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge is important for scholars to analyze and interpret.
Tania Romero Gonzalez, Undergraduate