The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to pause our planning efforts to consider authorizing a new refuge in the Maine High Peaks. This pause will allow us an opportunity to further understand what role, if any, the Service could play to better support local conservation needs. Robust community engagement and support is essential when considering the authorization of a new refuge, and we look forward to continued conversations to determine how we can best support locally-led conservation efforts in the High Peaks region.

The High Peaks Region of Maine is approximately 90 miles north of Portland, Maine and 56 miles north-northwest of Augusta, Maine.  It is roughly encompassed by the towns of Rangeley, Stratton, Kingfield, Carrabassett Valley, Salem and Madrid in Franklin County.

The High Peaks region’s terrain is mountainous and steep. It ranges in elevation from approximately 600 feet to above the tree line. These elevational changes provide uniquely rapid transitions in natural communities, which may be beneficial to organisms adapting to climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change
. The region has the largest expanse of high-elevation forest in Maine, including 10 peaks over 4,000 feet. It contains the largest contiguous block of land in Maine above 2,700 feet, and the second largest block of land above 3,500 feet. Also, the land stretching across Saddleback Mountain to Crocker Mountain is one of the largest roadless areas (17,000 acres) in the State.

The region’s high-elevation habitats, and the species they support, are currently underrepresented in the Refuge System. Its alpine, rare plant, and natural communities provide habitats for many species of conservation concern, including the Bicknell’s thrush, blackpoll warbler, Blackburnian warbler, red crossbill, spruce grouse, Canada lynx, and northern bog lemming. The region’s major natural communities include: alpine arctic tundra, alpine, sub-alpine, krummholz, high montane forest, low montane forest, valley forest, and wetlands.

The cold, clear rivers and mountain streams in the High Peaks region have been recognized for their unparalleled importance for recovering the endangered Atlantic salmon. The Sandy River and its tributaries including Orbeton, Perham, Saddleback, Coddle, and Conan Streams are particularly important to the species’ recovery and have been designated as “Critical Habitat.”

For more information about this project, please see the Press Release and Frequently Asked Questions documents.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is pleased to announce public listening sessions/scoping workshops to gather public input on conservation, recreation, and economic opportunities -including the concept of a National Wildlife Refuge- in the High Peaks Region of Western Maine.

This is a document of Frequently Asked Questions about the proposed new refuge land in Maine High Peaks.


A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 570 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.
A bright orange sky with a setting sun with a pond and vegetation in the foreground
The realty division of the National Wildlife Refuge System supports the acquisition and management of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands, using Migratory Bird Conservation and Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars.


Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge Harper's Meadow and Errol Hill
Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, located in northern New Hampshire and Maine, welcomes you to its forests, wetlands, lakes, and rivers.