West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuge is located in the western basin of Lake Erie. It is jointly owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Staff at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge manage the island as a wilderness area, as provided under the Federal Wilderness Act. West Sister Island is Ohio's only Wilderness Area. In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established West Sister Island "as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife...," and it was specifically designated to protect the largest wading bird nesting colony on the U.S. Great Lakes. To protect this vital nesting area, public access is permitted for research only.
West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuge is closed year round; no visitation is allowed.