Swan Island is a wildlife management area that also provides a sanctuary for migrating waterfowl and the resident white-tailed deer. It is also the only management area where camping is allowed and programs are provided for visitors. Swan Island was once known as Swan Island Game Management Area. One of the early biologists working there was Stephen E. Powell. After Powell's death in 1971, the name of the area was changed to The Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area.
IF&W provides ferry transportation to and from Swan Island as part of the admission fee. Visitors will be met at the Department's landing in the town of Richmond at the time of arrival specified on the reservation unless special arrangements have been made. Travel to the island by means of personally owned watercraft (canoe, kayak or dinghy; there is no tie up or mooring for larger vessels) is allowed without a reservation. Admission fees may be placed in iron rangers at the island's main dock or at the campground.
Swan Island, known for its abundant and often quite visible wildlife (especially nesting bald eagles, white-tailed deer and wild turkey), is actually an abandoned 18th and 19th century town called Perkins Township, and has long been recognized for its varied and interesting history. There are currently five standing homes dating back to the 1700s, with an 18th century vernacular landscape. It was used by Native American tribes, early explorers, and settlers, and was reportedly visited by American historical figures such as Aaron Burr and Benedict Arnold.