Hundreds of years ago Native Americans harvested the bounty of the Great Bay region, fishing in its waters, and hunting deer and turkey in its forests and meadows. When Europeans moved into the area, they farmed and raised cattle.
In the early 1950's, the land was acquired by the U.S. government for the development of Pease Air Force Base. The base, officially active January 1, 1956, was named in honor of Captain Harl Pease, Jr. of Plymouth, New Hampshire, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Over the years, Pease Air Force Base hosted two Strategic Air Command operational units.
When the base was ordered closed in 1989, citizens from Newington and the surrounding area, along with many environmental groups threw their support behind the establishment of a wildlife refuge on 1058 acres of the former air base. This was accomplished in 1992 with the establishment of Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Through a variety of environmental activities the land is gradually being reverted to the natural state that the First Americans enjoyed.