National Wildlife Refuge
|Still River Depot Road
Harvard, MA 01451
Phone Number: 978-443-4661
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge
Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is located in north-central Massachusetts, approximately 35 miles northwest of Boston, MA. The refuge lies within the towns of Ayer and Shirley in Middlesex County and the towns of Harvard and Lancaster in Worcester County. The refuge consists of approximately 1,667acres of upland, southern New England flood-plain forest, and wetland communities along nearly 8 miles of the Nashua River corridor.
Oxbow NWR was formed by three land transfers from the former U.S. Army, Fort Devens Military Installation, and a recent purchase of private land in Harvard, MA. Two of the transfers from the Army (May, 1974 and February, 1988) formed the original 711-acre portion of the Refuge located south of Massachusetts Route 2. The third Army transfer occurred in May of 1999, and added the 836-acre portion of the Refuge that is located north of Route 2. Finally, approximately 120 acres were added to the Refuge in April, 2001, with the acquisition of the former Watt Farm property along Still River Depot Road in Harvard.
Getting There . . .
From Massachusetts Route 2, take Exit 38 (Route 110/111) south toward Harvard; bear right to stay on Route 110 at Harvard Center; and, turn right onto Still River Depot Road at the Still River Post Office. The refuge parking area is at the end of Still River Depot Road, past the railroad tracks.
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A variety of wetland habitat types are maintained and protected at Oxbow NWR. Beavers play an important role in the formation and succession of some of these wetlands, and their activities are welcomed, but managed by use of exclosures and perforated pipe to prevent damage to other habitat or refuge facilities. Some areas of wetland on the refuge are experiencing invasion by non-native species, including the common reed (Phragmites) and purple loosestrife.
Active management of these invasive species has been initiated using a host-specific beetle on the loosestrife and water level changes for the Phragmites. Additional control methods are being evaluated. Open fields on the refuge are maintained in that condition to benefit a number of species of birds that require this habitat type by mowing every three to five years. Areas of the refuge are maintained by mowing, discing or blading to provide nesting habitat for the State threatened Blanding's turtle.
The refuge and neighboring U.S. Army Training Area support the highest density of nesting Blanding's turtle east of the Mississippi River.