About the Refuge

Salt marsh - Matt Poole/USFWS.

Located along the northeast coast of Massachusetts, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to provide feeding, resting, and nesting habitat for migratory birds. Most commonly associated with Plum Island – a barrier beach island – the refuge is comprised of more than 4700 acres of diverse habitats including sandy beach and dune, cranberry bog, maritime forest and shrub land, and freshwater marsh. The most abundant habitat on the refuge is its 3,000+ acres of salt marsh, one of the most productive ecosystems in nature. Parker River provides pristine coastal habitat for over 300 species of resident and migratory birds, as well as a large variety of mammals, insects, fish, reptiles and amphibians. The refuge also provides critical habitat for the federally threatened piping plover.

In addition to its mission of wildlife conservation, the refuge provides a variety of excellent wildlife-dependent recreational activities, including surf fishing, wildlife observation and photography, a variety of interpretive programs, and seasonal waterfowl and deer hunting opportunities. A large visitor center – complete with a classroom and auditorium – supports many of these public uses.

Parker River has achieved the following special designations: Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), Important Bird Area (IBA), and Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).

 The refuge headquarters and visitor center is located at 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA, 01950.  Phone: (978) 465-5753.  General email address: parkerriver@fws.gov. 

Passes:  America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands series of passes may be obtained at the refuge.  The refuge also sells Federal Duck Stamps and an annual pass that can only be used at Parker River NWR ($20).  Before traveling to the refuge to obtain one of these passes, it is advisable to call the refuge to make sure that someone is on duty who can sell and/or issue passes.  That is not always the case.  The Federal passes can also be ordered online here:  https://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html.