Baltimore Oriole in Footbridge Marsh by Taylor Way.Baltimore Oriole in Footbridge Marsh by Taylor Way© 2015 Gary Freedman Recent News News From 2013-2016 News Before 2013

News Before 2013

June 15, 2012: Action Against Effort to Gut the Endangered Species Act

(Sudbury MA) Elizabeth J. Cygan covered Jamie Eldridge's discussion with the Friends on June 13th at the Visitor Center. She kindly provided her article for the Town Crier for us to reproduce.

On June 13th an informational meeting was held with Senator Jamie Eldridge to discuss Priority Environmental Bills for the 2011-2012 Session. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge and held at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Visitor Center at Assabet River NWR located on Hudson Road in Sudbury.

Eldridge is the State Senator for the Middlesex and Worcester Districts, including the towns of Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Harvard, Hudson, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Northborough (Pct.3), Shirley, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury Pct 2, 3, 5), Westborough. He is a vocal force in the Legislature to ensure that there is enough money to fund environmental protection and continue two decades of such policy.

At the meeting, Eldridge spoke to an audience of over 50 environmentalists and conservationists who were anxious to hear the latest information about environmental issues and the turn around of some Legislators by abandoning long standing protection of the environment by overturning environmental legislation in the form of bill SB1854 aimed at disempowering or “gutting “ the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act has protected endangered birds, fish, animals, plants, trees and aquatic species, which are on the road to extinction.

SB1854 would remove the Department of Fish and Game’s authority to regulate rare species leaving them unprotected. According to the Senator, landowners in Massachusetts want to gut the Endangered Species Act because it interferes with building projects. Building projects create jobs and in this economy jobs are the priority issue. The legislature has a goal of creating jobs even at the expense of rare specie protection.

The immediate goal of environmentalists is to prevent SB1854 from getting out of committee and head to the House and Senate. Governor Patrick’s view is a pivotal point for if the bill goes to the governor’s office hopefully he will veto it and be an ally of conservation.

Eldridge noted that a letter, dated July 11, 2011, sent to Senator Marc Pacheco and to Representative Anne M. Gobi who sponsored B1854. From the Massachusetts Audubon So9ciety and Environmental League of Massachusetts strongly opposing B1854, which would dismantle the MA Endangered Species Act.

This letter was supported by the following organizations:

The Sierra Club
The Conservation Law Foundation
The Nature Conservancy
MA Association. Of Conservation Commissions
MA Land Trust Coalition
MA League of Environmental Voters
MA Rivers Alliance
The Walden Woods Project
MA Organization of State Engineers and Scientists
Appalachian Mountain Club
Berkshire National Resources Council
Berkshire Environmental Action Team
The Charles River Watershed Association.

There has been continued action against SB1854, since it was filed in 2011, but ultimate power may be informing the citizens of the Commonwealth about the current attitude of the Legislature and what would be lost if SB1854 is not stopped.

Eldridge gave A CALL FOR ACTION to his fellow conservationists and environmentalists in the audience. He said to email, call, or write to your legislator to stop the bill, and gave contact information for his office. He is speaking out to his constituents informing them of SB1854, urging them to make contact.

Eldridge also discussed other pending legislation including:

  1. Senate bill 1660: An Act to reinstate the clean environment fund. (The Bottle Bill) which he noted was sent for study, which is certain death of the bill.
  2. Senate Bill 1664: An Act to improve neighborhood solar and net metering in the Commonwealth (New)
  3. Senate Bill 1437: An Act making corrective changes in certain laws regarding the taxation of forest, farm and recreational land (New)
  4. Senate Bill 1018: An Act relative to the effective enforcement of municipal ordinances and bylaws (New) - to increase the conservation commissions authority to administer land use and other bylaws, ordinances and regulations.

April 8, 2012: Frogs, Salamanders and Turtles on the move! Drive with care

(Sudbury MA) Refuge staff has issued a reminder that all visitors should observe speed limit of 15mph when driving on Winterberry way. 15mph and no more!

Obey the 15mph speed limit on Winterberry WayObey the 15mph speed limit on Winterberry Way With the arrival of spring and warm weather, frogs, salamanders, and even turtles are on the move already! Refuge staff would like to remind everyone to please be extra careful driving on Refuge roads and slow down to give wildlife a break. Don't drive through puddles without first checking for critters that may be hiding in the water. Thank You!

The speed limit for motorized vehicles and bicycles on the trails which allow bicycling is 15 MPH or less. Law Enforcement vehicles are on the look out for vehicles that do not respect the speed limit.

March 30, 2012: Construction on Winterberry Way

(Sudbury MA) Hikers and bikers please take note. There is repair work underway on Winterberry Way for the construction of a spillway. Please be very careful or avoid trying to navigate this section of Winterberry way at all until repairs have been made.

The road at this point is very narrow and will likely experience some additional erosion as the water flows through the remaining culvert. Please be very careful or avoid trying to navigate this section of Winterberry way at all until repairs have been made.

March 15, 2012: Summer Youth Jobs on the Refuges

(Sudbury MA) The Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex is offering Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) positions for young people ages 15 to 18 during the summer months in 2012. This year’s YCC program will last 8 weeks, starting on June 25 and continuing until August 18. YCC recruits generally work 40 hours a week, 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day, and are paid minimum wage. They must be a permanent resident of the United States, it territories or possessions, and be able to provide their own transportation to work.

The Youth Conservation Corps offers students the chance to learn a variety of skills in the great outdoors, get plenty of exercise, engage in teamwork, meet new friends, accomplish goals, and learn about the natural world. YCC recruits will spend several paid hours each week participating in environmental education programs, getting to know the many different aspects of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Working trips to other refuges are also a possibility for the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex YCC team. Recruits will be provided with all necessary safety and work equipment, and will be under constant supervision of a YCC Leader and other refuge staff.

Youths interested in the YCC program can obtain an application from Natural Resource Planner, Carl Melberg by calling 978-443-4661 x32, or email Carl_Melberg@fws.gov. Applications can also be picked up and dropped off at the Headquarters building on 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, MA. Applications must be returned by April 20, 2012. YCC recruits will be randomly selected from applicants in early May. If more applications are received than positions available, students who did not get selected will become “alternates” in the event a selected applicant cannot work. After selections are made, there will be an evening orientation at the refuge prior to June 25.

Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex will also be recruiting a “YCC Group Leader” position for the duration of the program. The Leader position is perfect for outdoor-oriented educators who are looking for summer work. People interested in this position can also contact Carl Melberg at the above number.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship.

February 12, 2012: Reminder to use the Tax Check off for MassWildlife

(Sudbury MA) Please consider giving to MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Fund or the Wildlands Fund through a check off on your Massachusetts state income tax forms. Your dollars are critically needed to support these programs.

The Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) is responsible for the conservation and protection of Massachusetts' biodiversity. There are approximately 176 species of vertebrate and invertebrate animals and 259 species of native plants and their habitats that are officially listed as Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. For all but two years since 2004, the Natural Heritage Program has been absent from the state's operating budget. Since then, the Program has been funded by project-specific bond monies, fees, federal grants, and voluntary contributions.

A major source of funding for the protection of rare and endangered species in Massachusetts comes from voluntary donations on state income tax forms. All contributions go to the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Fund, which currently is the source for a significant portion of the annual operating budget of the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. Over 20,000 tax filers support the program each year. If you have made a contribution in this manner, thank you for supporting the Program and its conservation efforts!

According to the Massachusetts Resident Income Tax Form 1 instructions, “this fund has helped restore and conserve in the Commonweatlh populations of the Bald Eagle, Hessel’s Hairsteak Butterfly, the Redbelly Turtle and the Plymouth Gentian.”

You can donate when filing your state income tax by entering an amount on Line 32a: "Endangered Wildlife Conservation". Ask your tax preparer, if you use one, to do this.

November 2, 2011: Assabet River NWR Visitor Center Wins Wins Award for Sustainable Design

(Washington DC) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability shown brightly during the Federal Energy Management Program’s (FEMP) 2011 Federal Energy and Water Management Awards as David Guthrie, the energy coordinator for the Service, took home the prestigious Program Manager’s Award and three national wildlife refuges won team awards.

Guthrie, who also won an Exceptional Service honor, has helped make the Service a federal leader in energy management, and his work has helped the Service save millions of Btu of energy, millions of gallons of water and much taxpayer money.

Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge and San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex all built or renovated structures that showcased sustainability efforts.

The Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury, Massachusetts, was honored for the sustainable design of its 5,879 square-foot visitor center. The building features passive solar architecture, a cool roof, daylighting, low-e glazed windows and much more. The 19 megawatt-hours of renewable power generated offsets 13.1 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Low flow plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals conserve 3,000 gallons of water a year. Individual Service members honored were:

  • Libby Herland – Project Leader/Refuge Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Tom Eagle – Deputy Project Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Susan J. Russo – Visitor Services Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Marsha Browning – Contracting Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Tony Leger – Regional Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (retired)

July 5, 2011: Refuge Staff Reminds Visitors to Obey the Speed Limit on the Refuge

(Sudbury MA) Refuge staff has issued a reminder that all visitors should observe speed limit of 15mph when driving on Winterberry way. 15mph and no more!

Obey the 15mph speed limit on Winterberry WayObey the 15mph speed limit on Winterberry Way Please remember you are on a National Wildlife Refuge and that wildlife take priority. The newly paved access road — Winterberry Way — which goes past the Visitor Center to the tear drop near Puffer Pond is conducive for fast driving. However, please observe the speed limit when driving and when biking. Recently, animals have been found killed by traffic on this road. The speed limit for motorized vehicles and bicycles on the trails which allow bicycling is 15 MPH or less.

Law Enforcement vehicles are on the look out for vehicles that do not respect the speed limit.

June 17, 2011: Friends board member honored with a River Steward Award

(Sudbury MA) Riverfest 2011 marked its tenth anniversary this year. The Friends are pleased that board member Neela de Zoysa was honored with a River Stewardship Award for all that she has done to promote Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. The award represented the towns of Stow, Hudson, Maynard and Sudbury in which the Refuge is located.

Neela de Zoysa showing her River Stewardship Award at Riverfest 2011 RiverFest is a celebration of the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord Rivers It brings together more than 40 organizations sponsoring events in eleven communities from Framingham to Lowell. Twenty-nine miles of the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord Rivers have been federally designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers because of their “outstandingly remarkable resources including ecology, recreation, scenery, history and literature.”

Six years ago, the League of Woman Voters in partnership with the Wild and Scenic River Stewardship Council established the River Steward Awards. The Awards honors unspoken heroes within the river communities who are doing their part to promote, preserve and protect the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord Wild and Scenic Rivers today, and for future generations.

The Awards Ceremony held on June 10th, kicked off the Riverfest weekend. The ceremony was held at the Minute Man National Park and the awards presented by Lee Steppacher of the National Park Service, Betsy Sluder of the League of Women Voters of Concord and Susan Crane, Chair of the River Stewardship Council. This years honorees included Al Pierce of Acton, Andrew Colgan of Bedford, Dr. Peter Burn of Carlisle, Kris Scopinich of Lincoln, The Ponds and waterways Committee of Sudbury, Neela de Zoysa for Stow, Hudson, Maynard and Sudbury, the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Wayland and the Outstanding Award went to Sue Beede for her leadership in different capacities in the last 21 years.

Several members of the Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge have been recipients of River Steward Awards in the past. Last year's recipients were former board members Paul and Mary Ann Scheiner, and member Alan Bragg for his work at Great Meadows NWR. In previous years founding board members Karen and Ron Riggert, as well as Mike Meixell, Debbie Dineen and Grove Wadman were recognized for their extraordinary commitment. The US. Fish and Wildlife Service's staff have also received several awards - Libby Herland, the Complex Manager of the Eastern Massachusetts NWRs in 2009 and Peggy Hobbs and Susan Russo in 2010.

At the award ceremony this year, The Three River Chorus of Maynard gave a wonderful performance of choral works. The finale was an excerpt from President Obama's victory speech set to music which captured the spirit of the Riverfest.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can!.

May 26, 2011: Fifth year that Blanding's turtles have been released at Assabet River NWR

(Sudbury MA) This is the fifth year that Blanding's turtles have been released at Assabet River NWR in an effort to start a new population at this site. On May 26, 2011, conservation partners including Bristol County Agricultural High School, Oxbow Associates, Inc., the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, the Friends of Assabet River NWR, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined together to release 51 young Blanding's turtles in prime wetland habitat.

Bristol Aggie students, led by teacher Brian Bastarache, raised dozens of Blanding's turtle hatchlings from September 2010 - May 2011. Photo Credit: Keith Shannon, USFWSBristol Aggie students, led by teacher Brian Bastarache, raised dozens of Blanding's turtle hatchlings from September 2010 - May 2011.
Photo Credit: Keith Shannon, USFWS
This is the second year that the sophomore class at "Bristol Aggie" diligently cared for dozens of Blanding's turtle hatchlings for the entire school year. These "head-started" turtles are kept in a warm environment and fed a nutritious diet from the time they hatch in September, until the following spring. During this time, they grow to a much larger size than they would in the wild, giving them a survival advantage as their larger size makes them less susceptible to predation. The average hatchling weight is only 8 grams, but the average head-start this year was nearly 40 grams!

For more information, see the full story at: USFWS Journal Entry.

March 18, 2011: Local National Wildlife Refuge Biologist Receives National Science Leadership Award

(Sudbury MA) Stephanie L. Koch, lead wildlife biologist at the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex, this week was awarded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s national Science Leadership Award.

Koch was recognized for her leadership in overseeing the scientific and biological program on eight national wildlife refuges in the greater Boston metropolitan area and on Cape Cod for the last decade. The award citation cites her “outstanding record of objectively evaluating scientific information and making recommendations that result in scientific-based solutions to fish and wildlife service issues.”

Koch’s area of expertise is the research and management of coastal waterbirds, however her work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has included waterfowl, Blanding’s turtles, New England cottontails and other animals and plants. The national wildlife refuges in eastern Massachusetts are inhabited by federally-listed threatened and endangered species and one of the largest colonies of common terns along the Atlantic seaboard.

According to Libby Herland, refuge manager, “We are thrilled that Stephanie's scientific achievements and leadership skills have been recognized at the national level. Her original research provides sound science for making complex refuge management decisions. We are so fortunate to have a scientist of Stephanie's caliber working for wildlife on behalf of the American people.”

Koch has received National Science Foundation fellowships and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funding for her research. She has established strong conservation partnerships with key scientific organizations including the Manomet Center for Conservation Science and the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

“Stephanie has formed strong conservation partnerships with leading biologists from throughout the United States, and she has assisted numerous young biologists in their career, serving as an excellent role model for sound, objective scientific research,” said Herland.

Koch’s work at the refuge complex began at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, where she completed a research study determining that horseshoe crab harvesting on the refuge was not compatible with the refuge’s mission of conserving migratory shorebirds that feed on the crabs’ eggs. She also established a partnership with the University of Rhode Island to conduct a comprehensive study of shorebirds and public uses to guide management decisions at Monomoy, an internationally renowned shorebird site. The research results have recently been published in scientific journals such as Waterbirds and The Wader Study Group Bulletin and are also being used by other agencies and organizations.

Koch said, “I became interested in conservation while accompanying my dad on annual hunting trips in Maine, beginning when I was seven years old. It is an honor just to be nominated for this award.”

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

March 15, 2011: Appreciation of Hank Norwood

(Sudbury MA) The Friends announce with sadness the death of our board member Hank Norwood on March 1st after a brief illness. Hank was active in the movement to set aside the land for the Assabet River NWR in the late 90's and rejoined the board in 2009. He helped with strategic planning and shaping policy and outreach programs.

Hank's tenure on the board was marked by his remarkable clarity of vision and an uncanny ability to get to the essence of things. His enthusiasm was infectious and he was meticulous in gathering evidence and hard numbers to support any proposal he made. He gave his best and challenged others to give their best as well. Board members will remember his thoughtfulness and graciousness in all his dealings.

He greatly valued the role that the US Fish and Wildlife Service played in protecting large wilderness areas in the vicinity and he felt strongly about the Friends' role as well as other non-profits in the area whose duty was to serve our local communities and to bring these resources to the attention of the larger public. He saw "Citizen Science" as a way to support the institutions managing the land and keeping the public involved in a constructive manner. He himself paved the way with half a century of the Concord Christmas Bird Count and the Nighthawk Watch which he did so effectively. His commitment to nurturing young people was uppermost on his list of priorities and he had great hopes for the new visitor center and its role in offering excellent Environmental Education and getting the local public schools and communities involved.

We were fortunate to have the benefit of his vision in the short period and we will miss him very much. Our presentation on Refuge Plants for Refuge Wildlife by Frances Clark on Sunday, March 13 was dedicated to Hank and we took a moment to remember him with affection and respect.

A memorial service will be held at the Wayland First Parish Church, 11 AM Saturday, March 26th. In lieu of flowers, gifts in his memory may be made to Sudbury Valley Trustees, Parmenter Community Health or Williams College. For more information, please contact the John C. Bryant Funeral Home of Wayland.

February 25, 2011: Vision plan for the Refuge System made available for public comment

(Washington DC) U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a draft vision plan to guide the growth and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System over the next ten years.

Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation sets forth nearly 100 draft recommendations to protect and improve the U.S. system of public lands and water set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants.

The public is strongly encouraged to comment on the document. To read it and comment on it, see: americaswildlife.org.

December 1, 2010: New Visitor's Center at the Assabet River NWR Opens

(Sudbury MA) On Sunday, October 17, about 1,200 people attended the day long activities and the formal ceremony marking the grand opening of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s new Visitor Center at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. The beautiful fall weather certainly helped and by mid-day a long line of cars were parked all the way down to Hudson Road. The Refuge staff and the Friends were thrilled to have such a large turnout.

The new Visitor Center on opening day. Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin.The new Visitor Center on opening dayPhoto courtesy of and copyright David Griffin The Visitor Center located at 680 Hudson Road, Sudbury serves the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex - Great Meadows, Assabet River and Oxbow NWRs west and northwest of Boston, , Massasoit NWR in Plymouth, Monomoy NWR and Mashpee NWR on Cape Cod and Nantucket NWR and Nomans Land Island NWR in Nantucket Sound.

The building is completely energy efficient with many green features including geothermal energy for heating and cooling and solar panels for electricity. The exhibits are beautifully designed with many interactive features to keep children and adults engaged and well informed. The center also has a Nature Store with field guides and other nature related items.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas presents an appreciation to the Refuge Staff. Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin.Congresswoman Niki Tsongas presents an appreciation to the Refuge StaffPhoto courtesy of and copyright David Griffin Susan Russo, the Visitor Services Manager, for the US Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the formal ceremony which was attended by about 200 people. The line up of speakers was impressive and included the US Fish and Wildlife Service personnel from Washington D.C., the NE Regional office in Hadley, MA, Congressional and State representatives, town officials, Native American representatives, local and national non-profits and residents of the area.

Libby Herland, the Project Manager of the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex in her welcome remarks said “this Visitor Center is for now and the future, to be relevant to a changing America. We want this center to promote Environmental Education and help the public connect with nature and the outdoors and understand what we at the Fish and Wildlife Service do”.

Libby Herland, Project Manager of the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex welcomes the large crowd. Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin.Libby Herland, Project Manager of the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex welcomes the large crowdPhoto courtesy of and copyright David Griffin Tony Leger, Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, NE Region of USFWS in Hadley, MA and Cynthia Martinez, Chief of Visitor Services and Communications of USFWS in Washington D.C. provided an important overview of the Service to the audience. Martinez said the opening of a Visitor Center is an unmatched opportunity to connect with the public. She emphasized the crucial role played by volunteers to support the Service’s relatively small staff of 900 employees who are spread thinly over the different divisions and a small budget of 1.5 billion dollars. She mentioned the launching of a “New Vision” asked that the public visit the website and provide comments to make the Service more relevant to the future of conservation.

Leger who oversees some 71 Refuges and 500,000 acres from Maine to Virginia said the Service is about “Conserving wildlife for the sake of wildlife and for you the American public and the children”. He appealed to the audience to take an interest in what the Service does and in the outdoors. He said “People decide what land to conserve and how much to spend via the Land and Water Conservation Fund through their elected officials”.

The keynote speaker, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, of the Fifth District said she was pleased that such a cutting edge federal facility is located in the her District. She said the building was a sterling example of bringing more clean energy related jobs, federal dollars for education and to protect the environment, reducing the use of fossil fuels and green house emissions and of grass root volunteerism. “Never forget the importance of advocacy” she said. She commended the dedicated federal employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and committed volunteers of the Friends of the Assabet River NWR for their tireless work to make this facility a reality.

Arthur Skura and Stephen Deflorio introduced kids to pond life. Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin.Arthur Skura and Stephen Deflorio introduced kids to pond lifePhoto courtesy of and copyright David Griffin The local NE Companies that were involved with the design and construction of the Visitor Center are Lumus Construction Inc, of Woburn, Oak Point Associates of Portsmouth, NH, designed the building, I.W. Harding Construction Co., West Bridgewater constructed the roads, Lyons/Zaremba of Boston, designed the exhibits, Split Rock Studios, St Paul MN, fabricated the exhibits and Peace River Studios, Cambridge did the film and audio productions.

Tom Conroy, State Representative, Jamie Eldridge, State Senator and John Drobinski, Chair of the Board of Selectmen, Town of Sudbury all echoed the Congresswoman’s pride in having such a great facility in their area and the exemplary use of tax dollars.

Speakers of all ages addressed the crowd (Betsy Griffin, President of the Friends, and Aiden Pavao a local student). Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin.Speakers of all ages addressed the crowd (Betsy Griffin, President of the Friends, and Aiden Pavao a local student)Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin Joan Patterson of the National Wildlife Refuge Association based in Washington D.C., a non-profit which coordinates the advocacy effort for the refuge system gave a colorful description of what ordinary folks can accomplish when they band together. She spoke glowingly of some 200 Friends groups nation-wide. During a time of budget cuts they were able to secure a 105 million dollar increase in funding for the Refuge system through their advocacy efforts.

Betsy Griffin, President of the Friends of the Assabet River NWR said she sees the new center as a meeting place for non-profits and schools in the area and all those interested in the environment and educating the next generation. She asked the public to be engaged and to volunteer their time in however small capacity. Rona Balco, President of the Friends of the Oxbow NWR, said it was a privilege to be involved with the important mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Aiden Pavao, a twelve year old student from the Apple Valley Montessori School and a resident of Acton is an avid bird watcher. He spoke how he loves to go bird watching and bike and hike on the refuge and volunteer with invasives removal.

The Carbary family, former residents in the area that is now the refuge. Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin.The Carbary family, former residents in the area that is now the refugePhoto courtesy of and copyright David Griffin Arthur Carbary, a former resident in the area that is now the refuge, grew up here until in 1942, 68 years ago, they were asked to leave when the government acquired the area under Eminent Domain. He said his family moved to the area in 1926, to a cottage they built on Willis Pond, the foundation and chimney of which still stands. Some 40 members of the Carbary family were gathered for a grand family reunion. The Carbary Trail is named after the family. He said “It is good to be back home again”. He described idyllic days growing up swimming, fishing, paddling, neighbors with the local wildlife, in the winter ice skating and playing ice hockey on the pond with skating parties with hot dogs and roasted marshmallows. He quoted a song “Once upon a time perhaps will never come again”. He hoped people and children would enjoy the Visitor Center as he and his siblings did growing up and have chance to create their own once upon a time.

Chief Roland Jerome and fellow tribesman leading a drumming ceremony. Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin.Chief Roland Jerome and fellow tribesman leading a drumming ceremonyPhoto courtesy of and copyright David Griffin The formal ceremony ended to the haunting drum beat of Chief Roland Jerome, Mic Mac Indian from the United Native American Council Ayer, MA. He and his fellow tribesman honored the four directions, with drumming and singing. “Way back when, before every body, my ancestors travelled through here” he said. He thanked the Fish and Wildlife Service for protecting the animals “without the animals my ancestors would not have survived. We took away their land and the animals have no place to go. The children will know what they are and the animals will not go extinct and will be here forever” The Chief said “when you walk the trails, you are walking next to an ancestor”.

Bikers and hikers started things off. Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin.Bikers and hikers started things offPhoto courtesy of and copyright David Griffin Jill Kern, well known local hiker of the Stow Conservation Trust and Laura Mattei of the Sudbury Valley Trustees began the day leading a bike and hike around the refuge. Mattei said “I was impressed with the turnout. We encountered folks in all parts of the refuge” The Pond Exploration offered by Arthur Skura and Stephen Deflorio had a steady stream of kids and parents stopping by at the edge of Puffer Pond. It was great to see Stephen escorting the group to the pod, wetsuit, boots and all. Arthur Skura said “the kids loved finding tadpoles and dragonfly nymphs in their nets and the parents had a good time as well”.

Jan Wright conducted tours of bunker #303Jan Wright conducted tours of bunker #303Photo courtesy of and copyright David Griffin There are some 50 World War II bunkers on the refuge built for ammunition storage. Jan Wright a Friends’ member who conducted the tours of bunker #303 on Harry’s Way was inundated with interest and curiosity. Many were surprised to learn about this history right here in their back yard.

Mime artist Henry Lappen performed a children’s show “Passion for Birds”. Using handmade masks of different species of birds, he imitated their feeding habits and flying techniques. His comic demonstrations were thoroughly enjoyed by the children and adults alike.

October 17, 2010: Saving Rare Species, One Baby Turtle at a Time: Curtis Middle School Students Receive Congressional Recognition

(Sudbury MA) Curtis Middle School Students in Sudbury and their Seventh grade Science teacher Michal Mueller received a Congressional Recognition from Niki Tsongas on River Day September 12 for their involvement with saving the rare Blanding’s Turtle.

[You can read the full version of this article (with video) at the Sudbury Town Crier].

The certificate read “in recognition of your strong commitment to the environment of the 5th Congressional District. Thank you for caring for Blanding’s Turtle hatchlings.”

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and the Curtis Middle School StudentsCongresswoman Niki Tsongas and the Curtis Middle School StudentsPhoto courtesy of David Griffin The Annual River Day is an event hosted by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas to celebrate the waterways that connect the Fifth Congressional District. The awards were the highlight of the Congresswoman’s visit to the new US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Visitor Center at the Assabet River NWR which opened on October 17.

The Blanding’s Turtle is listed as a rare species in Massachusetts as well as in 14 other states and three Canadian provinces. The species does not reproduce until they are about 15 years old, and they lay eggs in upland habitat and therefore need to move between upland and wetland habitat. The lack of understanding of these factors and the fragmented habitat are real problem to overcome. The Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge located in Sudbury, Maynard, Stow and Hudson is a location where the turtles are being reintroduced by researchers.

Samm Katcher one of the students said in her presentation “the adult populations of the turtles can lay eggs until they are 70 years old and are doing well. The eggs they are laying are not. These eggs are often eaten even before they hatch and ones that do hatch often die on their way to water eaten by predators. Their shells are not quite hardened yet which makes them easy meal for birds, snakes and even chipmunks.”

The conservation efforts include protecting nests and “head-starting” turtles raised in captivity for their first year. The “head-started” hatchlings are less vulnerable to predation and more likely to survive their second year of life in the wild. Bryan Windmiller, a private researcher based in Concord, MA, who has taken the initiative with school participation, is a firm believer that projects such as raising the hatchlings empowers students to contribute to larger environmental challenges rather than feel helpless. Stephanie Koch, Refuge Biologist of the Fish and Wildlife Services who manages the Blanding’s conservation effort said releasing “head-starts” in to the wild and creating habitat conducive for nesting will need to be done for at least 10 to get a viable population going.  More of this story ...

Ali Stahr one of the students said “ going through this experience was very meaningful to me and gave me a huge insight in to the problems in my own backyard. I hope every kid has at least one chance to participate in programs like the one I did because I know that if they do, we will be one step closer to keeping our world safe.”

Michal Mueller, a science teacher at Curtis for 14 years is an enthusiastic collaborator in these efforts. She agrees that even a small hands-on effort is transforming to the students understanding of the issues of conservation. The 90 students she involves every year of her team at Curtis are all engaged in a variety of ways. A few become captivated and passionately devoted to the cause as evidenced by the students’ eloquent speeches.

The two hatchlings raised by the students were named Emy and Andi, from the scientific name Emydoidea blandingii. The turtles are regularly measured, weighed and monitored. As Grace Caltabiaro said of her first impression “I saw a crowd of students at the counter and went to see what was the matter. Almost the entire class was looking at our new baby Blanding’s Turtles. Girls fretted over how small they were and the boys laughed at the way their tiny heads bobbed up and down as they swam. Emy and Andy were the center of attention. As the first caretaker of the baby turtles, I fed them reptile food, took their measurements and cleaned their tank with my teacher on Fridays after school.”

Several other students spoke about their experience – Amanda Rose, Tara Mehta, Krystal Phu, Kyra Fryling and Hannah Jones all gave heartwarming accounts of what the experience had meant to them. They talked about how quickly the turtles grew to four to five times their size and how much larger they were than their counterparts in the wild. They drew attention to the fact that being run over by cars when the turtles cross roads is responsible for many turtle deaths. It was thrilling for them when the laparoscopies which were needed to determine the sex of the hatchlings confirmed that Emy was a female and Andi was a male! They were loath to let the hatchlings go, when it was time to release them to the wild. Crystal Phu talked about the teacher’s obvious passion for the work that was infectious and enthused them all.

In these competitive times it was reassuring to see work done with no expectation of personal accolades and to see it rewarded with the recognition.

Ali Stahr said “We have only one planet in which to live on so I would no doubt try to keep it safe – safe for the Blanding’s Turtles, all of the other wild creatures and me.”

September 12, 2010: Friends receive a Congressional Recognition from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas

Friends president Betsy Griffin received a Certificate of Special Recognition for the Friends work from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas at the Fourth Annual River Day on Sunday, September 12thFriends president Betsy Griffin received a Certificate of Special Recognition for the Friends work from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas at the Fourth Annual River Day on Sunday, September 12thPhoto courtesy of David Griffin (Sudbury MA) The Friends received a Certificate of Special Recognition from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas at the Fourth Annual River Day on Sunday, September 12th in celebration of the rivers that connect the Fifth Congressional District.

The Fifth District encompasses a large network of tributaries of Sudbury, Assabet and Concord Rivers that ultimately flow into the Merrimack River in Lowell. The rivers in this area have sustained it since early settlement and supported the industrial revolution and inexorably linked to its history, culture and economy.

As part of the River Day activities the Congresswoman Tsongas stopped at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s new Visitor Center for Easter Massachusetts located at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, in Sudbury, MA.

The Friends’ certificate was “in recognition of many years of environmental stewardship and volunteerism you have offered the fifth congressional district”. The Congresswoman said the Friends’ leadership role in supporting the refuge and the mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service was largely responsible in the decision to locate the Visitor Center at the Assabet River NWR.

It was a packed house at the Annual River Day on Sunday, September 12thIt was a packed house at the Annual River Day on Sunday, September 12thPhoto courtesy of David Griffin Betsy Griffin, President of the Friends accepted the certificate on behalf of the Friends. She commented later that many volunteers and board members had worked hard to accomplish the work. In particular, the founding president Barbara Volkle’s leadership was exceptional.

American Recovery and Reinvestment funds of nearly one million dollars were used to complete the Visitor Center. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is thrilled that the center sets a national example of green technology and it is the only Visitor Center of its kind in the northeast. The Congresswoman played an important role in securing these funds for the purpose. The new building will be formally opened in a ceremony on Sunday, October, 17.

The Congresswoman was taken on a tour of the new building by Libby Herland, Complex Manager for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Eastern Massachusetts NWR eight refuges that the center will serve. The Congresswoman also provided commendations for several other groups including a students of Curtis Middle School in Sudbury who are involved with conservation of rare species

August 25, 2010: Visitor Center Open House a Hit!

(Sudbury MA) The US Fish and Wildlife Service hosted the long awaited "Open House" of its brand new Visitor Center at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, August 22, 2010. The event drew about 150 people - this included many members of the Friends who were pleased to see the completed facility and many curious neighbors and residents of the surrounding towns. The construction of this new facility began in April 2008 and everyone was pleased to see the attractive new building with it's environmentally friendly features and the superb exhibits. There were many questions about the information presented in the exhibits about the eight refuges featured by the Visitor Center that form the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex - Great Meadows and Assabet River, Oxbow in Harvard, Monomoy and Mashpee on Cape Cod, Massasoit in Plymouth, and Nantucket and Nomans Land Island in Nantucket Sound. The Service will continue to maintain it's current Offices at Weir Hill, Sudbury at Great Meadows as their administrative office and most public programs will be moved to the new facility after the October 17, Grand Opening.

Susan Russo, the Fish and Wildlife Service's Visitor Services Manager has been working for over two years coordinating a myriad details to make this opening a reality. For the Friends of the Refuge this was a truly exciting day. Assabet River NWR, the newest of the eight refuges was a former US Army property acquired by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000 and opened to the public in 2005, with the help of volunteers from the Friends. To see the crowded parking lot and the large number of visitors was a great satisfaction to many early volunteers who saw potential in this land as a wildlife refuge. The Friends will have an office space in the building and were pleased to open doors to their new Nature Store. The Nature Store carried educational material such as field guides of plants and animals and other items pertinent to the local area. Joy Viola and Arlene Witty who were at the counter commented that the the sales were brisk and that there were many suggestions for new items that visitors would like to purchase. The Refuge Staff and Friends are looking for volunteers to man the store and the front desk and will be providing the necessary training.

Many visitors stopped by at the information booths of the two Friends groups from Assabet River and Oxbow Refuges. Karen Riggert of the Friends of the Assabet River Refuge who manned the Friends information booth said there were many first time visitors who had a variety of questions about the Refuge. Jan Wright conducted the tours to the World War II bunker nearby and was kept busy with many requests. The bunker is one of 50 that were constructed in 1943 for storage of ammunition.

George Stubbs of Sudbury was impressed with the high quality of the building and with the environmentally friendly features of the building. He and his wife Nancy and son Jared live in the neighborhood of the Hop Brook Marsh and was familiar with the South Side of the Refuge but had never visited the main part north of Hudson Rd. They toured the bunker and George said he was surprised by the World War II history right here in town. He hoped that the Public Schools would make good use of the facility and the history which is part of the Refuge.

Lisa Cornaccia had been in the Refuge a few times and seen the Visitor Center under construction. She attended the Open House with her two teenage sons who attend LS High School and her daughter who attends the Sudbury Middle School. She thought it was a amazing opportunity for young people and the public in the area to learn about the native wildlife and nature and was also impressed by the high quality of the exhibits. She and her children were interested in opportunities to volunteer at the Refuge. Susan Russo mentioned that children as young as 10 years will find it rewarding to help out at the Refuge and the Visitor Center.

There are several events building up to the Grand Opening of the Center on Sunday, October 17. On Sunday, September 12, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas will make a visit to the Visitor Center part of her River Day activities; on Sunday September 26, there will be a tour of the Center as part of the Annual Bus Tour featuring of Refuge History. The Opening day will have a diverse activities and a mid day ceremony with dignitaries and a special focus on youth presenters. Libby Herland, the Head of the US Fish and Wildlife Office here at Weir Hill in Great Meadows NWR, Sudbury MA intends to make the Visitor Center a popular local desitination for families in the area and visitors from afar. She plans to house a top-notch Environmental Education Program and high quality interpretive activities for public and private school, home schoolers and for the general public.

For more on the opening, see the article in the Sudbury Town Crier.

July 7, 2010: Visitor Center at Assabet River NWR opens its doors this fall!

(Sudbury MA) Good news for those who have been waiting for the opening of the brand new Visitor Center at the Assabet River NWR. The US Fish and Wildlife Service will open the doors to this state of the art facility on Sunday, October 17. They will host an Open House on Sunday, August 22 and several tours of the facility over the summer.

The center will serve the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex, consisting of eight National Wildlife Refuges - Great Meadows, Assabet River and Oxbow outside of Boston to Monomoy and Mashpee on Cape Cod, Massasoit in Plymouth, and Nantucket and Nomans Land Island in Nantucket Sound.

In addition to the interpretive and interactive exhibits covering all eight refuges, the new center will include a large room for educational programs and community meetings, a Nature Store operated by the Friends and office space for refuge staff. The building has many "green" attributes - such as energy efficient geothermal energy for heating and cooling, equipped with solar panels for electricity and uses recycled materials within the building for insulation. The paving outside the building is porous allowing rain water absorption. The Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to promote the Visitor Center as a premiere environmental education resource in the area.

Friends are pleased that the Visitor Center will give much needed publicity to Assabet River NWR, the newest of the eight refuges. This was a former US Army property acquired by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000 and opened to the public in 2005, with the help of volunteers from the Friends. This area has been out-of-bounds for over 60 years and the Visitor Center and will mark a new phase in welcoming the public back to the area.

Sunday, August 22nd, 10am - 4pm - "Open House"

This open house will provide the public the opportunity to see the new Visitor Center along with its newly installed environmental education exhibits. The Friends of Assabet River and Oxbow will provide light refreshments and have the bookstore open. We will be offering public programs at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. These will likely include a bird walk, a historical tour including a visit to Bunker 303 and a children's activity.

Sunday, October 17th, 10 AM - 6 PM: GRAND OPENING!!

This day will include a number of interpretive programs from sunrise bird walks and bike ride to children's activities (such as scavenger hunts, wildlife contest, etc) and crafts. We plan to have a formal speaker procession at 1pm to include National dignitaries, Native Americans, Arthur Carbary (former resident) and a youth keynote speaker.

June 26, 2010: Friends cosponsor art exhibit and reception with the SVT for the second time

(Sudbury MA) The Sudbury Valley Trustees and the Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge cosponsored an art exhibit at SVT’s Wolbach Farm from June 26th – 30th. The watercolor paintings were on displayed at the farm's magnificent barn overlooking the Great Meadows NWR. This was the second collaborative art exhibition and was entitled "Season of Wonder and Renewal: Celebrating Spring through Nature Inspired Watercolors" and featured nearly 70 paintings by 25 artists from the Metrowest area. The previous exhibition held in late November was a big success.

Guests enjoying the showGuests enjoying the showImage courtesy of David Griffin This time too, the opening reception on Saturday, June 26 drew over a 100 artists and guests. Eighteen of the featured artists participated in the FARNWR sponsored art workshops at Weir Hill, Great Meadows NWR this spring under the instruction of Cecilia Sharma of Sudbury. The local artists range from beginners to professional artists or long time amateur watercolorists who enjoy the peace and quite and the wonderful setting at Weir Hill. The watercolors on display had spring scenes and wildlife observed by the artists and reproduced from photographs by well know local photographers and naturalists Dave Griffin, Marjike Holtrop and Jill Kern among others.

A sampling of the art on displayA sampling of the art on displayImage courtesy of David Griffin

Nearly 50 participants have enjoyed the 6 week art programs in the past two years. They come from towns in the immediate vicinity such as Sudbury, Maynard, Hudson, Marlborough, Stow, Wayland and Concord to further a field to Framingham, Bedford, Littleton and Weston. Most of them have visited a National Wildlife Refuge for the first time and become familiar with the important work of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. At the opening reception, Betsy Griffin, President of Friends commented on the collaboration with Sudbury Valley Trustees as a great local partnership and informed the gathering along with Michael Sanders, Director of Membership for SVT about the important work done by Friends, FWS, SVT to protect open spaces to preserve the health of the environment in our towns. Cecilia Sharma congratulated all the artists for the wonderful work and the spirit of collaboration in which they have come together to paint, learn about nature and to build a community of friends.

The art program will continue to be offered by Cecilia Sharma under the sponsorship of FWS and Friends at the new Visitor Center at the Assabet River NWR on Hudson Road. This state of the art facility will be formally opened on Sunday, October 17 and will be open for a preview at an Open House on Sunday, August 22. The center will serve the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex, consisting of eight National Wildlife Refuges - Great Meadows, Assabet River and Oxbow outside of Boston to Monomoy and Mashpee on Cape Cod, Massasoit in Plymouth, and Nantucket and Nomans Land Island in Nantucket Sound.

June 25, 2010: The new 2010 - 2011 Duck Stamp went on Sale Friday, June 25

(Washington DC) The new 2010 - 2011 Duck Stamp went on sale Friday, June 25.

Image courtesy of the FWSImage courtesy of the FWS Those who have purchased stamps over the decades have contributed over $700 million and protected more than 3.5 million acres of habitat for wildlife and future generations of Americans. Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps”, are pictorial stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Since 1934, a huge proportion of the funds used to acquire critical habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System were provided through sales of these stamps.

The Stamp today costs only $15 and is easy to purchase at any Post Office or Refuge office. Even better, it is extremely cost-effective: fully 98 cents out of every dollar goes directly to acquire land for the Refuge System.

There are over 540 individual units within the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System. Each refuge is managed as a protected haven for birds and other wildlife. Since 1934, a huge proportion of the funds used to acquire these critical habitats were provided through sales of what is today known as Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps – commonly called “Duck Stamps.” Americans who enjoy wildlife and natural landscapes can thank those who have purchased stamps over the decades for this legacy of habitat conservation for wildlife and future generations of Americans. As we move into a time where adaptation to climate change requires flexibility and planning, contributing to this fund increases the capacity of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to acquire and protect sensitive wetlands and grasslands.

Stamps have traditionally been purchased by waterfowl hunters and other recreational users of the refuge system. Additionally, funds derived from Stamp sales go far beyond serving the hunting community. For those who visit refuges, a stamp is a “free pass” for an entire year – for a vehicle full of people at all refuges that might charge for admission.

For more information on Duck Stamps, see Duck Stamps.

May 28, 2010: Students Give the Blanding's Turtle a Second Chance

(Sudbury MA) On the morning of May 21, 2010, 17 students, several teachers and parents from the Bristol County Agricultural High School celebrated the release of 47 State-threatened Blanding’s turtle hatchlings at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge (refuge). Close-up of a Blanding's turtle hatchling that was larger enough to get a radio transmitter put on before its release. Image courtesy Susan J. Russo/USFWSClose-up of a Blanding's turtle hatchling that was larger enough to get a radio transmitter put on before its release. Image courtesy Susan J. Russo/USFWS The students have been raising (headstarting) these hatchlings over the winter as part of a larger project aimed towards establishing a population of Blanding’s turtles at this new site. Hatchlings collected from other nesting sites are raised in captivity over the winter and released the following spring at a much larger size than they would have attained if overwintering in the wild. In addition to their contribution to this project, the students have been true stewards of nature. The students’ efforts have increased the number of turtles that now have radio transmitters (which allow staff to track the turtle’s location post-release) and as Kurt Buhlmann of the Savannah River Ecology Lab – University of Georgia stated, ”(the students) are on the cutting edge of conservation research.“ As an added component to the release, a research associate from Assam, India was on-site to observe the release and hear about the student’s project. Through the efforts and support of the Bristol County Agricultural High School, Savannah River Ecology Lab of the University of Georgia, Oxbow Associates Inc., and Exo Terra, turtle conservation and awareness is growing each day. Students receive 2010 Turtle Steward Award. Image courtesy Susan J. Russo/USFWSStudents receive 2010 Turtle Steward Award. Image courtesy Susan J. Russo/USFWS To learn more, please visit Bristol County Agricultural High School, Oxbow Associates, Kurt Buhlmann, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Exo-Terra and Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex.

The Friends provide funding and volunteer hours for the current Blanding's Turtle research effort by the Fish and Wildlife Service led by Stephanie Koch, Refuge Biologist. The Friends also provide public outreach by arranging speakers like Bryan Windmiller, our June presenter, who works on Blanding's conservation.

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.