Susquehanna NWR, the less than one acre island known as Battery Island, is located at the mouth of the Susquehanna River in Hartford County, Maryland. During the 1920’s, the island was used as a fish hatchery for shad, sometimes also known as river herring. In the early 1940's, over 13,000 acres of water were closed to hunting migratory waterfowl by presidential order and designated as the Susquehanna NWR.
An area known as the Susquehanna flats were once covered with wild celery, pond weeds, redhead grass and other desirable waterfowl food sources. At their peak, waterfowl included over 500,000 canvasback and redhead ducks as well as over 200,000 American wigeon.
These rich areas of aquatic growth began declining in the 1960's due to changes in the water quality and quantity. Development above the Conowingo Dam caused more rapid drainage and greater water flow through the dam. Currents in the upper Chesapeake Bay deposited heavy loads of silt in the Susquehanna flats area. The remaining waterfowl vegetation was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
Only a few thousand geese are now found around the refuge during winter. Due to the sharp decrease in waterfowl population and vegetation in the area, the presidential proclamations which originally closed the water areas, were lifted on September 1, 1978 and returned to Maryland for supervision. Battery Island in Maryland remains a part of the NWR System. No public use facilities are located on the refuge, and the island is closed to the public.
Susquehanna NWR is managed by the Chesapeake Marshlands NWR, located in Cambridge, Maryland, which also supervised the Eastern Neck NWR, Martin NWR which includes Watts Island Division, and Blackwater NWR, which includes Bishops Head, Barren Island, Garrett Island, and Spring Island Divisions.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service