Archive of Selected Past News

July 27, 2009: Great Meadows NWR Concord Impoundment Management 2009

(Sudbury, MA) Over the past several years, the refuge has been actively managing water levels within the Concord Impoundments for the benefit of migratory birds. Water levels have been raised and lowered in order to provide stop-over habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl in the spring and fall. Though management for spring migration has often been thwarted by heavy rains and flooding, water level management has still created habitat for a variety of bird species throughout much of the year, including habitat for marshbirds and waterfowl in the spring and early summer, wading birds and shorebirds in late summer, and waterfowl in the fall. Drawdowns also stimulate vegetative growth and invertebrate populations which benefits waterbirds, fish and turtles. Over time, concerns have been raised regarding potential negative effects of drawdowns, especially on Blanding’s turtles. In 2009, we are altering our water level management to maintain habitat for Blanding’s turtles and nesting marshbirds and waterfowl, while still providing habitat for fall migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. This summer, the refuge is also planning to clear ditches of accumulated sediment, create refugia (small shallow depression that will hold water during drawdowns) and increase topographical relief of the impoundments.

June 1, 2009: Bicycling now allowed on the Refuge

(Sudbury, MA) As of June 1, 2009, bicycles are allowed on the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge on a very limited number of trails. While cyclists and all visitors are encouraged to enjoy the Refuge, they should keep in mind that the primary purpose of the Refuge is the protection of wildlife habitat. All cyclists entering the Refuge should check in at the kiosks at the entrances in order to obtain information about which trails are open to bikes, speed limits, and other restrictions. Violators of these restrictions will be subject to legal penalties.

May 1, 2009: Refuge Association Launches 4th Annual Refuge Photo Contest

(Washington, DC) The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) announces its 4th annual digital photo contest showcasing America's national wildlife refuges. Entries for the 2009 Refuge Photo Contest can be submitted until July 15, 2009 with results to be announced in October 2009 in connection with Refuge Week.

"Images are critical to telling the Refuge System story," said Evan Hirsche, president of NWRA. "We know that there are terrific amateur and professional photographers capturing images throughout the System. This is an opportunity for avid photographers to show their work to a broader audience and to help capture the essence of our remarkable wildlife refuges."

The National Wildlife Refuge System, comprised of 549 refuges throughout the nation, protects both rare and common types of habitat - everything from southwest desert to arctic tundra. Images submitted for the photo contest can be of birds, mammals, insects, fish, other animals, plants, people, or simply shots of refuge scenery.

This year, ATP Oil and Gas, Inc. has generously donated the $5,000 first place cash prize. Other prizes include two round trip tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines, and offerings from Barbara's Bakery, Wild Bird Centers of America and Houghton Mifflin.

In addition, the winners' images will be highlighted on NWRA's website and future publications. At least 200 images will be selected for inclusion in the NWRA Refuge Image Library and every photographer submitting an entry will receive a complimentary one-year membership in the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

For photo contest details, requirements, and procedures, please visit:

September 23, 2008: USFWS Begins Planning Process for Nantucket NWR and Comprehensive Conservation Plan Resumes for Nomans Land Island

(Sudbury, MA) On October 14, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will hold an informational meeting about the Nomans Land Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). The meeting will be held from 7 – 9 pm at the Chilmark Library. At the meeting, you will have the opportunity to meet the staff, learn about current refuge management, help us identify issues and concerns, and make recommendations about future refuge programs.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also pleased to announce that we are beginning the development of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Nantucket NWR is located at the tip of the Coskata-Coatue peninsula on the eastern side of Nantucket Island, known as Great Point. The 24-acre Nantucket refuge was established in 1973 when the Service acquired the property under the Act Authorizing the Transfer of Certain Real Property for Wildlife or other purposes from the U.S. Coast Guard. The first meeting for public input will be held on October 15, 2008 in the Town Annex Building (37 Washington St.) from 7-9 pm. There, you will have the opportunity to meet the staff, learn about current refuge management, help us identify issues and concerns, and make recommendations about future refuge programs. We hope to see you there!

For more information on the CCPs and the planning process, see here.

August 22, 2008: Friends of the Assabet River NWR sponsoring trail naming contest.

(Sudbury, MA) The Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge are now holding a contest to name 14 trails on the refuge. Many local businesses have already stepped up to provide many prizes for each of the winners. This includes Wild Birds Unlimited of Sudbury, Brine's Sporting Goods in Sudbury, the Maynard Outdoor Store of Maynard, Russell's Garden Center of Wayland. EMS of Acton, REI of Framingham, Erickson Grain Mill of South Acton, Paul Boothroyd of the Maynard Historical Society, the members of the Assabet Keeping Track team, photographer Marijke Holtrop, photographer David Griffin, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff, the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Ron McAdowof the Sudbury Valley Trustees, and noted naturalist Peter Alden.

The contest will run through November 1, 2008. See here for local press coverage.

May 22, 2008: Congressional Study finds the nation's Wildlife Refuges are vastly under-funded.

(Washington, DC) – A new report released to Congress today finds the nation’s 548 National Wildlife Refuges are vastly under-funded, leading to unstaffed refuges and closings; unsafe roads and trails; decreased safety; millions of acres of invasive species; unprotected at-risk species; and hundreds of layoffs.

For details, see here.

April 2008: Local National Wildlife Refuges announce Ground Breaking Ceremony for May 3rd

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Complex) announced today that the ground breaking ceremony for their new Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex Visitor Center wil be held on Saturday, May 3rd between 2:00 and 4:00 PM at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas will preside over the event.

March 24, 2008: Local Refuges Propose a Firewood Cutting and Gathering Use

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Complex) is proposing to allow firewood cutting and gathering on Assabet River, Great Meadows and Oxbow National Wildlife Refuges (Refuges). Firewood gathering is the cutting and removal of woody material for private use by the individual removing the firewood. The use is the removal of primarily fallen (down dead) trees by individuals along, across or threatening existing refuge roads, trails, dikes, parking lots, facilities and other areas designated by refuge management. The gathering of firewood and the clearing of fallen trees from refuge roads, trails and other assets by refuge staff is a management action and not subject to compatibility. This use is proposed as an alternative to refuge-funded cleanup following storms, management activities or other events which result in the need to have woody material removed from refuge assets. In areas where timber stand improvements are prescribed or site preparation for tree planting is performed, firewood gathering could be offered in lieu of a commercial timber harvest operation. Private individuals would be allowed to cut and remove firewood through the issuance of a special use permit by the refuge manager.

The removal of firewood from the refuge for use by private parties constitutes an economic use governed by 50 CFR 29.1. Pursuant to those regulations, among other things, we must determine that the use be compatible with, and contributes to the Refuge purposes or the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

This use is being proposed to enhance the refuge's ability to provide high quality wildlife dependent recreation and wildlife habitat while reducing the drain on refuge resources and increasing visitor safety. In addition, this proposed use will increase our ability to maintain the vast amount of real property which is frequently blocked or damaged by fallen trees.

March 20, 2008: Local Refuges Propose Changes to Hunt Fees

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Complex) is proposing to change the hunt fee structure for the Assabet River, Great Meadows and Oxbow National Wildlife Refuges (Refuges). The Complex is proposing to change from refuge specific permits to Complex-wide permits. For each hunting season, a $5.00 non-refundable application fee would apply to lottery and non-lottery hunts. The proposed permit fee structure is as follows: archery deer permits will permit access to all three refuges during archery, shotgun and muzzleloader seasons and will cost $30.00. Small game, shotgun and muzzleloader permits will permit access to Assabet River and Oxbow only during each respective season and will cost $20.00. Waterfowl permits will permit access to Great Meadows and Oxbow and will cost $20.00. Turkey permit fee will be $20.00. Applicants ages 12 – 17 years old are not subject to fees and the lottery process, however they still need to submit an application and needs a state hunting license(s) per state regulations.

The Complex is considering going to this fee structure to make it more cost-effective for the hunter to pay for what he or she is actually hunting, to decrease the financial burden to applicants that are not selected for the lottery hunts, and to decrease the staff time it takes to administer the program.. Public comments must be received by 4:00pm on April 7, 2008.

December 29, 2007: White Pond Road Access to Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge Open

The North entrance to Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) is now fully reopened, since the construction of the bridge on White Pond Road is near completion. The bridge will need a top layer of asphalt in the spring.

September 13, 2007: New Proposal to Bring Blanding's Turtles to Assabet River NWR

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to establish a new population of Blanding's Turtles at Assabet River NWR. Public comments are due October 12, 2007. For more information, please read the press release (here) and the draft environmental assessment (here).

January 11, 2006: South Side Trails Open

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Invites Public to Explore New Trails Opened on South Side of Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge

Visit your local National Wildlife Refuge! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) invites the public to rediscover Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) by exploring 2.77 miles of new trails recently opened on the south side of Hudson Road in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

From American Beaver to Masked Shrew, from Red Fox to Red-shouldered Hawk, this refuge is an inspiring place for all who wish to cultivate a deeper connection with wildlife and the natural world we share. “It’s a great place for solace or an exuberant winter time adventure,” said Visitor Services Manager, Michael Dixon.

This land, centered in a developed area, had been protected by the Army for 58 years, before being transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the fall of 2000. That protection has allowed the maturation of extensive, structurally diverse wetland habitats, whose ecological integrity is enhanced by its surrounding upland forests and grasslands. The refuge provides significant habitat for migrating and resident wildlife. Along with providing habitat to numerous species considered threatened or endangered by the state of Massachusetts, the refuge also includes several rare wetland types and a number of vernal pools, which are considered to be habitats of special concern. Habitats such as these are an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage. You can help conserve these special places by staying on designated trails.

Under Army administration, the area was not open to general public use. Because of this, public access has always been a high priority for local community members. In January of 2005 the Service completed a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Assabet River NWR. This plan presents management goals, objectives, and strategies that we believe will best achieve our vision for the refuge, contribute to the National Wildlife Refuge System Mission, and serve the American public. A strategy was developed to open portions of the refuge in phases, in order to accomplish the goal of building a public that understands, appreciates, and supports refuge goals for wildlife. Opening these new trails fulfills another promise and exemplifies our commitment to the local and extended community we serve. “We especially want to recognize and thank the Friends of Assabet River for their constant assistance in preparing this and other parts of the refuge for public access,” said Refuge Manager, Debra Kimbrell-Anderson.

The refuge first opened to public access in March of 2005, followed by an official Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on October 23, 2005. New segments of the trail system were made available to the public on each occasion. Today, numerous opportunities exist for walking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing at Assabet River NWR, providing challenges, stimulation, and perhaps some comfort for those suffering from cabin fever. You may be thinking to yourself, “I’ve been there and done that.” Yet, how many people realize they are missing out on one of the truly great pleasures of life by “not re-visiting” their local national wildlife refuge. Your first visit to Assabet River NWR may be charming, but the second, third, and fourth could very well be the experience of a lifetime.

Assabet River NWR is one of eight refuges within the eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex. The refuge management and administrative office is located at the Complex Headquarters at 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts, 01776. For more information about future management and wildlife dependent recreation, contact the refuge manager at (978)-443-4661 or go to the refuge web site.

Sunday, October 23, 2005: Assabet River NWR Opening Celebration

10 AMNature Walk
NOON - 4 PMMusic, Kids Activities, and FUN !!
1 - 2 PMSpeakers and Ribbon-Cutting
3 - 4 PM"Eyes on Owls" program with Marcia Wilson

This event is free and open to the general public. Click here for the Press Release describing this event.

Our celebration will begin at 10 AM with a Nature Walk. This midmorning nature walk starts at the North parking lot. We will walk about 2 miles passing Puffer Pond where we will stop for lunch (bring your own) before joining the opening celebration at 1 PM. Following the opening day program a shuttle bus will return us to the North parking area. Please bring water and lunch.

Leader: Dave Lange, Friends Director, birder and member of Assabet Keeping Track team.

North parking area is reached from White Pond Road in Stow; go across the Assabet River and straight onto the refuge. The parking area is about 1/3 mile from the Assabet River. Return to the North parking area will be by shuttle bus or you may walk back.

The celebration will begin at Noon and continue until 4p.m. The entrance to the event is off Hudson Road in Sudbury.

12 - 1 PMMusic, interpretive talks, living history demonstrations, and puppet shows
1 - 2 PMSpeakers and Ribbon-Cutting
2 - 3 PMMusic, interpretive talks, living history demonstrations, and puppet shows
3 - 4 PMEyes on Owls program with Marcia and Mark Wilson

Starting at NOON, Snow Crow, Eclectic Soul, Folks and Roll band, will provide music under our tent which will be within walking distance from the Hudson Street entrance.

Kids Activities including music, interpretive talks, living history demonstrations, and puppet shows, will occur simultaneously from 12-1 and 2-3. The refuge will present displays, activities and performances encouraging the conservation of our Nation’s natural resources. Special exhibits will be presented by other local conservation organizations as well. Family friendly activities will be held in the special events tents along Craven Lane which is located within walking distrance on the East side of the refuge. Come take a picture with Teddy Roosevelt or the Blue Goose, the symbol of your National Wildlife Refuge System, while enjoying the musical talents of Snow Crow. Let them encapsulate you with fun eclectic tunes while dedicating a musical tribute to wildlife conservation. If you like classic stories with morals, then the Gerwick Puppet show, might just be the thing for you. Light refreshments will be available throughout the day.

Speakers and a ribbon cutting ceremony will occur from 1:00-2:00 PM. Congressman Marty Meehan has been invited.

Eyes on Owls will bring wild owls to our event so you can learn more about your wild neighbors and their habitats. Come see six live owls up close! This popular program is not to be missed!

NEW TRAILS will be open for this event!

March 26, 2005: Assabet River NWR Opens!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce that the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) will be opening to the public on Saturday, March 26, 2005. Refuge staff and members of the Friends of the Assabet River NWR have worked long and hard towards the establishment and opening of Assabet River NWR. Assabet River NWR was established in 2000 when the U.S. Army transferred 2,230 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge is located approximately 20 miles west of Boston within the towns of Hudson, Maynard, Stow and Sudbury and provides significant habitat for wildlife, including several species considered threatened or endangered by the state of Massachusetts.

The Refuge System is the world’s largest collection of lands and waters set aside specifically for the conservation of wildlife and ecosystem protection. The Refuge System consists of 545 national wildlife refuges that provide important habitat for native plants and many species of mammals, birds, fish and threatened and endangered species, encompassing more than 96 million acres. Refuges provide a wide variety of recreational opportunities and many have visitor centers, wildlife trails, and environmental education programs. Nationwide, over 40 million visitors annually hunt, fish, observe and photograph wildlife or participate in interpretive activities on national wildlife refuges.

Having completed long term planning referred to as our Comprehensive Conservation Plan, Assabet River NWR will be open to the public for wildlife dependent activities. Approximately 5 miles of trails will be open for wildlife observation and photography. Please join refuge staff at 10:00 a.m. at the refuge kiosk, just inside the main gate and entrance to the refuge off Hudson Road in Sudbury. Refuge Manager Debra Kimbrell-Anderson and Outdoor Recreation Planner Michael Dixon will be present to welcome and introduce you to the refuge. Members of The Friends of Assabet River NWR will also be present to talk with visitors about the refuge and the Friends group between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The Friends of Assabet River NWR have worked alongside Service staff in the establishment and preparation of the refuge for use by the public. Many hours went into removing hazards, clearing buildings and debris, and establishing trails prior to the opening of the refuge. Much of this work was accomplished by the Friends of Assabet River NWR and they have many wonderful stories to share.