ASSABET RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Located within the towns of Hudson, Maynard, Stow and Sudbury, the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 3.5 square miles. Formerly part of Fort Devens, this area was known as the Sudbury Training Annex. In the fall of 2000 the U.S. Army transferred 2,332 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Refuge consists of a large wetland complex with smaller vernal pools, and large forested areas, providing important feeding and breeding areas for migratory birds as well as other wildlife. Assabet River NWR is one of the eight ecologically diverse refuges managed by the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Currently Assabet River NWR is involved in the Blanding’s Turtle Repatriation Project with Oxbow and Great Meadows NWR. The Blanding’s Turtle, a medium-sized, semi-aquatic freshwater turtle, is considered a species of conservation concern in every New England state and is endangered in Massachusetts. The project involves collecting hatchlings and raising them in captivity at Assabet River NWR until they are a year old, and then releasing them into the native habitat, increasing their degree of survival. Juveniles are also collected from Oxbow, marked and radio-tagged, enabling biologists ability to monitor their movements when released at Assabet River NWR. Learn how elementary students helped with this project.
Fifteen miles of trails are open for public enjoyment of nature, with half of those open to biking. For birding and beautiful sights, hike Otter Alley or explore Winterberry Way with a stop at the Visitor Center to see local wild life and the nature store.
The National Wildlife Refuge System operates within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife and plants. Since 1903 the system has grown to include more than 550 refuges, many Wetland Management Districts, and thousands of Waterfowl Production Areas encompassing more than 150 million acres. Fifty-nine refuges with the primary purpose of conserving endangered and threatened species.
More than 41 million people visit National Wildlife Refuges each year, pursuing activities that include fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, photography, education and interpretive programs and generating over $1.7 billion in sales for regional economies. Each state has at least one; Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area has three within our boundaries: Assabet River, Oxbow and Great Meadows