New na­tional wildlife refuge will pro­tect shrub­land

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - WEATHER -

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice said on Tues­day that it has fi­nal­ized the cre­ation of a new na­tional wildlife refuge that will be lo­cated in parts of six states.

Great Thicket Na­tional Wildlife Refuge will be lo­cated on non-con­tigu­ous land in Con­necti­cut, Maine, Mas­sachusetts, New Hamp­shire, New York, and Rhode Is­land.

The fed­eral agency said it will work with “will­ing and in­ter­ested” landown­ers in 10 tar­geted ar­eas to ac­quire up to 23.4 square miles. The ser­vice said the refuge will pro­vide habi­tat for more than 2,100 types of birds, mam­mals, rep­tiles, am­phib­ians and fish. More than 380 of those species are en­dan­gered. Wildlife ser­vice north­east re­gion di­rec­tor Wendi We­ber said the refuge rep­re­sents a chance to “leave a legacy of conservation and to con­trib­ute to a large-scale ef­fort that will make a dif­fer­ence for Amer­i­can wood­cock, New Eng­land cot­ton­tails, monarch but­ter­flies and other wildlife.”

The pro­posal to cre­ate a na­tional wildlife refuge in an area of the coun­try with dense pop­u­la­tion at­tracted some scru­tiny from the pub­lic, in­clud­ing con­cerns that state and fed­eral au­thor­i­ties al­ready are work­ing to pre­serve wildlife habi­tat in the area. The wildlife ser­vice re­sponded that in­creased land pro­tec­tion and man­age­ment will out­weigh any costs as­so­ci­ated with the project.

The ser­vice has said it wants to ac­quire half of the land with the use of conservation ease­ments and half via pur­chases.

The tar­geted lands con­sist of shrub­land and young forests. The govern­ment is fo­cus­ing on land ac­qui­si­tions in south­ern Maine; the south­east­ern por­tion of Con­necti­cut; the Housatonic area of Con­necti­cut and New York; parts of Cape Cod, Mas­sachusetts; the north­ern Mer­ri­mack Val­ley and Dover ar­eas of New Hamp­shire; and south­ern Rhode Is­land.

There are 565 other na­tional wildlife refuges around the coun­try, in­clud­ing at least one in ev­ery state.

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