Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of 11 divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. The proximity of the refuge to the coast and its location between the eastern deciduous forest and the boreal forest creates a composition of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Maine. Major habitat types present on the refuge include forested upland, barrier beach/dune, coastal meadows, tidal salt marsh, and the distinctive rocky coast.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is planning prescribed burns on a 20-acre habitat in Biddeford and an 8-acre habitat in Kennebunk (weather conditions permitting) tomorrow (Thursday, April 20th). 
The purpose of the burns is to create early successional habitat conditions and to promote the growth of  plants and wildlife that depends on these conditions. 
We have coordinated with local Fire Departments and public safety is our #1 priority for these burns.

2023 Youth Employment Opportunities
Applications are now being accepted for YCC positions at Rachel Carson NWR, a summer work program for young people ages 15 to 18! Details can be found on our Get Involved page.









Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge Berwick-York Focus Area Offer Hunting Opportunities 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a final hunting plan for Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (RC NWR) and Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Maine.

A draft plan was issued earlier this spring, and during the 60-day public comment period, 9 comment letters were received from the public. We are grateful to the people who provided meaningful comments on the draft, which helped in developing the final plan.

A summary of all substantive comments, and our responses can be found in Appendix E (Finding of No Significant Impact). No significant changes have been made between the draft and final versions of the Hunting Plan. We may begin to implement the Hunting Plan for Rachel Carson NWR and Great Thicket NWR upon publication of the final 2022-2023 Station-Specific Hunting Regulations in the Federal Register.  The final plan can be viewed here…Final Hunt  Plan 2022-2023

Visit Us

Coastal Maine is a destination for both national and international visitors. Visitors are drawn to the area's beaches, rocky coastline, and forests every year. Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge offers an alternative for those seeking solitude and a connection with nature. 

While our main purpose is to protect wildlife and natural resources, the refuge offers a variety of ways for the public to experience and appreciate its protected public lands including three main nature trails and many wildlife observation stations featuring every habitat type found on the refuge, hunting and fishing opportunities, interpretive and educational programs, a visitor information center, many volunteering opportunities, as well as other recreational activities.  

For information on trails, wildlife viewing and photography, and other recreational opportunities at the refuge, click on the button below.

Location and Contact Information

      Our Organization

      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.

      Our Species

      Southern coastal Maine contains a greater diversity of upland plant and animal species than any other part of the state. Yet, this biologically rich area is the most densely populated part of Maine, and continues to experience rapid growth. The refuge divisions, distributed along 50 miles of Maine's southern coast, lie in the heart of that region. Along with salt marshes the refuge supports other coastal habitats including dune grassland, beach, subtidal and intertidal mudflats, marine open water, tidal river, maritime shrubland, and upland forest. Those habitats provide critical buffers for the salt marsh salt marsh
      Salt marshes are found in tidal areas near the coast, where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

      Learn more about salt marsh
      and habitat for many aquatic and upland species of conservation concern. 

      Brown and gray rabbit hides in the grass

      The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) is a medium-large sized cottontail rabbit that may reach 1,000 grams (2.2 pounds) in weight. Sometimes called the gray rabbit, brush rabbit, wood hare or cooney, it can usually be distinguished from the sympatric eastern cottontail and...

      FWS Focus
      Grey, white and black bird on sand in the foreground

      Size: 18 cm (7.25 in) in length. Color: Breeding season: Pale brown above, lighter below; black band across forehead; bill orange with black tip; legs orange; white rump. Male: Complete or incomplete black band encircles the body at the breast. Female: Paler head band; incomplete breast band....

      FWS Focus

      Our Library

      2023 RCNWR Internship Flyer 508 Compliant.pdf

      2023 RCNWR Internship Flyer for Avian Monitor and Salt Marsh Interns

      Get Involved

      There are so many ways to get involved at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Some activities may involve tasks such as winter rabbit tracking, habitat restoration, plant propagation, and invasive plant removal. Share your knowledge of the natural world by performing surveys or lend a hand at our visitor center by helping orient visitors to the area. We also host several volunteer days throughout the year that will appeal to anyone who would like to get their hands dirty. This is a great opportunity to learn about the refuge, what we do to protect wildlife and their habitat, gain experience, meet new people, and have fun!

      Please call (207) 646-9226, ext. 21, to sign up for the volunteer email list and learn more about the refuge. 

      Projects and Research

      Refuge staff conserves, creates, and restores habitats to benefit a diversity of wildlife. We focus on the highest priority lands; salt marshes, tidal rivers, forests, beaches, and thickets. These areas are home to many animals, both common and rare. Of course we don’t do it alone, we work closely with our conservation partners and communities.