The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is evaluating creation of a new national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

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to conserve currently unprotected, high priority fish and wildlife habitats across southern Maryland.

In collaboration with landowners, outdoor enthusiasts, conservation partners, and local communities, the Service proposes to identify lands for protection as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System in southern Maryland. If approved, these lands would be incorporated into a new National Wildlife Refuge that encompasses portions of Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, Prince George’s, and Anne Arundel Counties.

An in-depth, collaborative effort over the past 15 years demonstrated that currently unprotected habitats in these counties support significant populations of fish and wildlife appropriate for protection by the National Wildlife Refuge System, primarily threatened and endangered species, waterfowl, and migratory birds of conservation concern. These species face habitat loss from land use changes, 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.

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, competition from invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

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, and other stressors.

The process of establishing a new national wildlife refuge requires preparation of a land protection plan (LPP) and environmental assessment (EA) which will be made available for a 45-day public review and comment period.  The responsibility to approve or disapprove the proposal rests with the Service’s Director. The LPP/EA will propose a boundary within which the Service may acquire interests in lands from willing sellers. Land protection work could be achieved with fee title or conservation easement conservation easement
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or qualified conservation organization that restricts the type and amount of development that may take place on a property in the future. Conservation easements aim to protect habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife by limiting residential, industrial or commercial development. Contracts may prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, drainage of wetland and establishment of game farms. Easement land remains in private ownership.

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acquisition. Landowners w
ho do not wish to sell or donate interests in land to the Service are under no obligation to do so.

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

Direct questions and comments to:


Press Release - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks public comment on proposed refuge lands in Southern Maryland

The Service is hosting three listening sessions in March and April for the public to learn about the proposal, ask questions, and provide input to Service representatives and conservation partners. Listening sessions will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations and dates:...


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 560 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.


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Created to conserve and protect wildlife and wildlands through research, Patuxent Research Refuge offers 13,000 acres of tranquil forest, meadow and wetlands amid a densely populated urban area. Countless birds, mammals, pollinators, amphibians, and more call it home. Immerse yourself in this...

Library Collections

river flowing through green field under clear sky with orange in it
The National Wildlife Refuge System is the world's largest collection of public lands and waters dedicated to wildlife conservation, and it continues to grow in size. The Service develops Land Protection Plans (LPP) to fully evaluate the establishment of new refuges and major expansions to existing...