Plum Tree Island is identified by the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) as a Formerly Used Defense Site and is managed by COE within a program of the same name. Operated as an active Air Force bombing range from 1917-1952, much of the “on the ground” management of the refuge has been limited due to obvious safety reasons. Site studies, remedial investigations, and feasibility studies have been and continue to be conducted by COE. Results of these efforts are anticipated to occur in the short term.
Concurrent with the COE investigations, the refuge is developing a Comprehensive Conservation Plan. The plan serves as a 15-year management guide, outlining goals and objectives. Some of the alternatives will be driven by the results of the COE studies, others will not. The refuge manages its wetlands, forests, and shoreline with a variety of inventory and monitoring methods. Surveys and research efforts occur with the help of partners, volunteers, and FWS staff. The refuge is able to be knowledgeable of and responsive to threats from non-native species, climatic changes, and outside pressures. Protection of resources of concern are a priority, given their elevated status. Management for those species include time of year restrictions, limited access, and monitoring. Closures to the public are for the protection of flora and fauna as well as human health and safety.
As a federal land agency the refuge has as the important responsibility to protect and conserve cultural resources and landscapes. Protective measures include strict regulations prohibiting relic hunting, limiting public access, and conducting erosion assessments. The rich natural and cultural history of the site offers opportunity for authorized professionals to build a body of knowledge related to the area and interpret to a larger audience.
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The refuge is not open to the public. Due to fragile habitats and safety concerns associated with its former use as a bombing range, public access is prohibited. Unauthorized entry is a federal offense and is punishable by fine and possibly imprisonment.