Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
The refuge is comprised of ten separate divisions, stretching along 45 miles of coast between Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine. Refuge habitat is varied and unique as it lies within the transition zone of the northern boreal forest and eastern deciduous forest. Many plant and animal species are at their northern or southern range limit. At least 250 species of birds have been recorded for Rachel Carson Refuge. Numerous other wildlife species including moose, deer, fisher, river otter, black bear and gray fox use the refuge habitat, and harbor seals may be spotted along the coast. Refuge property is surrounded by the highly developed towns of the southern Maine Coast, providing unique and often complex management challenges.
The National Wildlife Refuge System is working to ensure that facilities and programs are accessible to visitors. Please contact the refuge office for information about accessibility at this unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The Rachel Carson Refuge office and visitor contact station is open year-round, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (excluding major holidays). The one mile, wheelchair-accessible Carson Trail looks out over the Upper Wells Division of the refuge and provides the viewer an opportunity to experience typical refuge habitat. A self-guiding interpretive brochure is available for use along the trail. Additional birding opportunities exist along a number of roads that border the marshes, particularly in the Upper and Lower Wells Divisions. The refuge is open to deer, waterfowl, upland game, and small mammal hunting. Presently, there is an open permit program with no limits on the number of permits issued. The fees vary depending on the species to be hunted: $10 for deer, $10 for migratory birds, $5 for pheasant, $5 for small game mammals and $5 for falconry. Specific refuge regulations apply in addition to State of Maine regulations. Contact the refuge office for hunt program details.
Recreation opportunities include hiking, hunting, visitor center, and wildlife viewing.
The management goals and objectives for each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System vary. For a variety of reasons, such as the presence of sensitive species and habitats, land ownership, and hazardous conditions, not all units of the Refuge System provide visitor opportunities. This area is open to public use.
The primary emphasis of habitat management in 1996 and 1997 has been wetland restoration. A number of management practices are being used to minimize encroachment of undesirable vegetation and maintain open fields on the refuge. Mowing, prescribed burning and a small amount of haying are techniques currently planned for 1998. In an effort to control exotic vegetation such as purple loosestrife, biological control methods are also being used. Some water management is used to encourage desirable wetland vegetation within an impounded area. Piping plover and least terns are monitored each year in a cooperative effort with the State of Maine and Maine Audubon. Other monitoring efforts and surveys include bluebird nestbox monitoring and vegetation, shorebird and wetland bird surveys.
From the Maine Turnpike take the Wells exit #2 to Routes #109 and #9. Turn left (east) on Route #109 and proceed to Route #1. Turn left (northeast) on Route #1 and proceed approximately 1.5 miles to Route #9 East. Turn right on Route #9 East and proceed approximately 0.7 mile to the Refuge entrance on the right.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication