Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge (NFWR) is the only true watershed project in the refuge system, conserving prime fish and wildlife habitat across the 7.2 million-acre Connecticut River watershed in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The watershed – New England’s largest – crosses diverse ecosystems, offering the Northeast’s most important habitat corridor for addressing wildlife and fisheries adaptation needs related to climate change. Conte NFWR’s innovative legislation provides a unique opportunity for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to provide leadership in federal-state-private partnerships to coordinate and fund adaptation activities.

Numerous federal, state, university, and non-governmental partners are working to further land conservation, habitat restoration, scientific research, and community outreach in the refuge. To date, nearly 250,000 acres have been protected in the Connecticut River basin, including more than 32,000 acres in the refuge. Through the acquisition of sensitive properties, LWCF assists these partners in abating significant ecological threats including incompatible forestry, residential and second home development, and the fragmentation of larger forested parcels into smaller ownerships that are often developed. A vital contributor to the conservation successes in focus areas and refuge divisions in all four states, nearly $10 million from LWCF and over $5 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission have been invested at the refuge. Today, there remain numerous willing-seller landowners with critical resource properties at the refuge identified as high priorities for purchase and protection. Continued LWCF funding is essential to protect the integrity of Conte NFWR and the greater Connecticut River basin.