Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge

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Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Puffer Pond, Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Maynard MA.jpg
Puffer Pond
Map showing the location of Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge
Map of the United States
Location Hudson, Maynard, Stow, Sudbury, Massachusetts, United States
Nearest city Maynard, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°24′30″N 71°28′14″W / 42.40833°N 71.47056°W / 42.40833; -71.47056Coordinates: 42°24′30″N 71°28′14″W / 42.40833°N 71.47056°W / 42.40833; -71.47056
Area 2,230 acres (9.0 km2)
Established 2005
Governing body U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, formerly referred to as the U.S. Army's Fort Devens-Sudbury Training Annex, is a 2,230-acre (9.0 km2) parcel of land located approximately 25 miles (40 km) west of Boston, and 4 miles (6.4 km) west of the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters, along the Assabet River. It is located in portions of the Towns of Hudson, Maynard, Stow and Sudbury. The Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge consists of two separate pieces of land. The larger northern section is just north of Hudson Road, extending north to the Assabet River. The southern section is located to the south of Hudson Road. There is a visitor center located on Winterberry Way. The refuge contains a diverse mixture of pine and hardwood forest, old fields, and wetland habitats, including vernal pools.[1]

On March 26, 2005, the refuge officially opened for wildlife dependent recreation. As of September 24, 2014, there are 15 miles (24 km) of trails open to the public for wildlife observation, half of which are open to biking.[1] A map of existing trails is available at the visitor center and at the refuge website. The refuge is also open for hunting and fishing, with hunting seasons set for deer, turkeys, grouse, woodcock, rabbits and squirrels.

Dogs are not allowed, as well as other pets, horses, fires, overnight camping, ATVs, and snowmobiles.[2]

The Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge (FARNWR) was formed in 2000, nearly a full year prior to the transfer of the Annex to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since that time, the Friends Group has provided the refuge invaluable assistance in preparing to open the refuge for wildlife-dependent recreational activities by removing physical safety hazards; conducting biological surveys of vernal pools, raptors, bats, invasive plant species; and conducting numerous public outreach and education programs.[3]


Origins of the Refuge date back to the 1942 seizure of land spanning Maynard, Sudbury, Hudson and Stow by federal eminent domain. Landowners were given about ten days to pack up and leave, and by their own accounts received around ten cents on the dollar of what the land was actually worth.[4]

One of the most interesting features of the Refuge is the World War II era ammunition bunkers. The site was chosen to be convenient to railroad shipping to the Boston Navy Yard, yet far enough inland so that a German battleship could not shell the area. Each of the 50 bunkers, officially referred to as “igloos,” has inside dimensions of 81x26x12 feet, with a curved roof. Sides and roofs were mounded with dirt for extra protection and disguise from aerial view. Bunker #303 is sometimes open for tours.[citation needed]

Picture of one of the bunkers

After WWII this site served as a troop training ground, ordinance testing and laboratory disposal area for Natick Labs, otherwise known as the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center. A 1980s assessment led to this being categorized as an EPA “Superfund” clean-up site in 1990, as the site was contaminated with arsenic, pesticides and other chemicals.[5] Extensive Army clean-up efforts continued for years, ending with the site being turned over to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 2000.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Refuge website: About the Refuge". U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 
  2. ^ "Rules and Regulations". U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 
  3. ^ "Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge". Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  4. ^ Boothroyd, Paul (2005). Maynard. Charleston, SC: Arcadia. ISBN 9780738539461. 
  5. ^ "ATSDR-PHA-HC-Fort Devens-Sudbury Training Annex-p1". Retrieved 2015-12-22. 
  6. ^ "The Office of Federal Lands Highway (FLH)" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-12-22. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.