Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge is located in Charlestown, Rhode Island, 30 miles south of Providence. Transfers of land from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service primarily established and expanded the refuge, including: 27.5 acres of the Ninigret Pond barrier beach in 1970, 316.4 acres of the Naval Landing Field in 1979, and an additional 60 acres in 1982. With the recent acquisition of two large tracts of mature deciduous forest north of U.S. Route 1, the refuge now covers 868 acres.
Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge is composed of a mainland parcel and a barrier beach parcel. Its mainland parcel contains 674 acres, including 3 miles of shoreline on Ninigret Pond. The barrier beach parcel contains 27.5 acres between Ninigret Pond and Block Island Sound.
Named after one of the original chiefs of the Narragansett Indians, the Ninigret National Wildlife sits upon the glacial outwash plain of the Charlestown moraine and is mostly surrounded by the largest saltpond in the state.
The wildlife present is as diverse as the vegetation which occupies the land. Over 250 bird species visit seasonally, and 70 species nest on the property, making bird watching and photography popular refuge activities. From saltmarshes, kettle ponds, freshwater wetlands, maritime shrublands and forests dominated by oak or maple, habitat is varied and plentiful.
Originally being used as a Naval Auxiliary landing field during world war II, the main portion of the refuge still contains remnants of the numerous runways, taxi-ways, and buildings which supported the war effort. Many people served their country here, with this rich history celebrated in an interpretive "trails through time" route which passes through the refuge.
Ninigret, along with the four other National Wildlife Refuges in the State are administered by the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, headquartered in Charlestown, RI.
On the refuge, the new Kettle Pond Visitor Center and headquarters, which opened in October 2005, celebrates the Ninigret Refuge and all of the other refuges in Rhode Island. This facility contains interactive exhibits, displays, a sales area, classrooms for special events, and knowledgeable people where visitors can come and explore the refuges and learn about the wildlife resources and coastal environments of each refuge.
The establishment purposes for Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge are:
“... for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management
purpose, for migratory birds,”
“... particular value in carrying out the national migratory bird