Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Celebrating 50 years of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

June 29, 2020

Contact(s):

Karl Stromayer, manager 

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge 

Karl_stromayer@fws.gov 

(207) 206-6735 



This month Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) proudly celebrates the 50th anniversary of its renaming in honor of the world-renowned marine biologist, author, environmentalist and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, Rachel Carson.  

The refuge will be kicking off a year-long celebration to mark the formal dedication of the renaming, which took place on June 27, 1970.  

During the 50th anniversary celebration, the refuge will be highlighting dozens of opportunities to explore its wealth of wildlife, habitat and natural resources, as well as Rachel Carson’s legacy. 

“It’s hugely motivating to work at a refuge named after one of our nation’s premiere environmental leaders,” said Refuge Manager Karl Stromayer. “Every day here at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is a journey of discovery into southern coastal Maine’s great biodiversity and natural beauty.  The counties that the refuge occupies have half a million people and are rich with partnerships and exciting opportunities to connect people to nature.”   

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1966 as the Coastal Maine National Wildlife Refuge, is comprised of 11 divisions, which span 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth. Currently at 5,690 acres, the refuge will contain approximately 14,683 acres of various wildlife habitats when land acquisition is complete. The proximity of the refuge to the coast, and its location between the eastern deciduous forest and the boreal forest creates a composition of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Maine. 

In addition to benefitting wildlife and protecting natural resources, Rachel Carson NWR offers a variety of ways for the public to experience and appreciate its protected public lands, including three main nature trails and many wildlife observation stations featuring every habitat type found on the refuge, hunting and fishing opportunities, interpretive and educational programs, a visitor information center, many volunteering opportunities, as well as other recreational activities. 

The 50th anniversary celebration will include virtual and remote events, such as Facebook Live programming, educational series, contests and self-guided scavenger hunts along the Carson Trail. While safety is our primary concern during the pandemic, the refuge will assess events it is able to safely host, such as interpretive programs, tide pooling events, BioBlitzes and volunteering opportunities. In the meantime, keep an eye out for more information and fun activities on the refuge’s Facebook page and along the trails and wildlife viewing stations. 

In her writings, Rachel Carson displayed a unique ability to simultaneously engage her own sense of wonder as well as that of her readers through eloquent prose and investigation of natural phenomena and biological processes. Her work helped connect people to nature and inspire environmental stewardship -- a feat the refuge continually aspires to emulate and expand upon.  

Though the mystery of the sea and its creatures captivated Carson at an early age, the Maine coast particularly inspired her. She regularly summered on Southport Island, where she studied its beach and tide pools to research The Edge of the Sea (1955). Through tireless investigation for her greatest work, Silent Spring (1962), she linked the unrestrained use of post-World War II chemical pesticides with fearsome, biological consequences.  

Overcoming industry and government pressure to abandon her research, Carson alerted generations to use chemicals with utmost caution, warning that their improper use would have devastating effects on public health and the environment. As fitting recognition of Carson’s contributions to conservation after her death in 1964, the refuge was renamed in her honor. 

During the current COVID-19 virus pandemic we urge visitors to follow CDC guidelines to ensure their health and safety and the health and safety of others. These include maintaining adequate social distancing, avoid overcrowding, and exercising good hygiene. When visiting Rachel Carson NWR, please note the following current conditions and plan accordingly:

  • The Visitor Center at 321 Port Road in Wells, Maine, is closed. 

  • The Carson Trail, adjacent visitor parking lot, and restrooms are open. 

  • Trails at Cutts Island and Timber Point are open. If parking lots are full when you visit, please do not stop. 

  • Restrooms at Cutts Island Trail are closed until further notice. 

For more information, visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/rachel_carson/  


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.