Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 10 units stretched across 70 miles of Connecticut's coastline. It was established in 1972 and was originally called Salt Meadow National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was renamed in 1987 to honor the late U.S. Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, who was instrumental in expanding it.
Located in the Atlantic Flyway, the refuge provides important resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for many species of wading birds, shorebirds, songbirds and terns, including the endangered roseate tern. Adjacent waters serve as wintering habitat for brant, scoters, American black duck and other waterfowl. Overall, the refuge encompasses over 1,000 acres of forest, barrier beach, tidal wetland and fragile island habitats.
The Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook, the Falkner Island Unit in Guilford, and the Great Meadows Unit in Stratford all have been designated as Important Bird Areas by the National Audubon Society. The Falkner Island Unit is home to over 40 pairs of nesting federally endangered roseate terns and over 2,000 nesting pairs of common terns. The Salt Meadow Unit is used by over 280 species of migrating neotropical birds during the spring and fall migrations.
The refuge also contains unique historic buildings - such as the Falkner Island Lighthouse and the Lape-Read House and Enoch Murdock House at Salt Meadow. The Chimon Island Unit in Norwalk contains a small memorial area for Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, who was instrumental in expanding the refuge. These buildings, landscapes and other features evoke the stories of the people of the Connecticut coast and how they shaped the refuge. To learn more, check out our Refuge History webpage here.
Stewart B. McKinney NWR Brochure (pdf)
Refuge Headquarters is located at the Salt Meadow Unit
733 Old Clinton Road, Westbrook, CT 06498