Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
|Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge|
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
View of Great Meadows, Concord
|Location||Concord, Massachusetts, Sudbury, Massachusetts, United States|
|Nearest city||Concord, Massachusetts|
|Area||250 acres (1.01 km2)|
|Governing body||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|
The Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge is a twelve-mile (19 km) long river wetlands conservation area, in two major parcels, stretching from the towns of Billerica, Massachusetts (downstream) to Wayland, Massachusetts (upstream), along the Concord and Sudbury rivers.
Considered by some ornithologists among the best inland bird observatories in the state of Massachusetts, this National Wildlife Refuge is a popular destination for bird watchers and tourists. About 85 percent of the refuge's 3,600 acres (14.6 km2) is freshwater wetlands.
The original 250-acre (1.01 km2) Concord, Massachusetts parcel that was the beginning nucleus of the sanctuary, has been known as the "Great Meadows" since the 17th century. The parcel was donated by Concord resident Samuel Hoar in 1944 to the U.S. Government. Hoar purchased a part of the Meadows in 1928, and built earthen dams (dikes) to hold the water within the marshlands, enhancing their value as waterfowl habitat for hunting. To provide greater protection for the area’s wetlands and wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began buying additional land during the 1960s.
Wildlife and protected species
A great diversity of birds have been recorded at the refuge, including nesting waterfowl: mallards, black ducks, wood ducks, and blue-winged teal. While-tailed deer, muskrats, red fox, raccoons, cottontail rabbits, weasels, beaver, squirrels, and a variety of small mammals are common. Many species of amphibians and reptiles are active during the warmer months.
The Concord unit is primarily two small lakes (referred to as "pools" or "impoundments") that are drained into the Concord River every summer. The resulting mud flats provide ideal feeding grounds for many species of shore birds and waterfowl that migrate in mid to late summer. In late July and in August, there will be wide range of birds at these feeding grounds, including various species of sandpipers, killdeer, lesser and greater yellowlegs, and great egrets. Large numbers of great blue herons, ducks and Canada geese are also attracted to these muddy and nutrient-rich feeding grounds.
Access and facilities
The Sudbury unit of the refuge, the headquarters, includes a visitor center. It is located in Sudbury, Massachusetts and is open weekdays.
- Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
- Donahue, Brian (2004). The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord. Yale Agrarian Studies Series. New Haven, Connecticut USA; London, England: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12369-2.
- Wilson, Leslie Perrin (August/September 1999). "Papers of the Legendary Hoar Family". Concord Magazine. Retrieved December 1, 2006.
- Robbins, Paula. "Hoar Family". Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography. Retrieved December 24, 2009.
- "Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge". United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of the Interior. August 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
- "Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge: Concord Unit Trails". United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
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