This refuge is one of five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island. About 200 million years ago, when the supercontinent Pangaea split, Africa left traces of itself along the shores of Sachuest Point creating the Price Neck Formation. From the mid-1600’s to the early 1900’s, Sachuest Point was used for farming and sheep grazing. During World War II, the U.S. Navy used this site for a rifle range and communications center. In 1970, a 70 acre donation from the Audubon Society of Rhode Island led to the establishment of Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. Today, with the land transfers from the Navy, the Refuge totals 242 acres that provide an important stopover and wintering area for migratory birds.
Refuge Complex Vision
We developed this vision statement to provide a guiding philosophy and sense of purpose for the five refuge CCPs. It qualitatively describes the desired future character of the Refuge Complex through 2015 and beyond. We wrote in the present tense to provide a more motivating, positive, and compelling statement of purpose. It has guided, and will continue to guide, program emphases and priorities for each refuge in Rhode Island.
“The Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex protects a unique collection of thriving coastal sandplain, coastal maritime, and beach strand communities, and represents some of the last undeveloped seacoast in southern New England. Leading the way in the protection and restoration of coastal wetlands, shrubland, and grassland habitats, the Refuge Complex contributes to the longterm conservation of migratory and resident native wildlife populations, and the recovery of endangered and threatened species. These refuges offer research opportunities and provide an outstanding showcase of habitat management for other landowners.”
“The Refuge Complex is the premiere destination for visitors to coastal Rhode Island to engage in high quality, wildlife-dependent recreation. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are rewarded each year with inspiring vistas and exceptional opportunities to view wildlife in native habitats. Innovative environmental educational and interpretive programs motivate visitors to become better stewards of coastal resources.”
“Through partnerships and extensive outreach efforts, Refuge Complex staff are committed to accomplishing refuge goals and significantly contributing to the Mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System . This commitment will strengthen with the future, revitalizing the southern New England ecosystem for generations to come.”
Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established to serve a statutory purpose that targets the conservation of native species dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed for compatibility with this statutory purpose.
The purpose(s) of this unit are:
“... for the development, management, advancement, conservation, and protection of fish and wildlife resources,” and for “(1) incidental fish and wildlife oriented recreational development; (2) protection of natural resources; and (3) conservation of endangered or threatened species.” – Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 and Refuge Recreation Act of 1962
Military installations directly impacted the landscapes that include Ninigret Refuge and Sachuest Point Refuge. Prior to 1940's, the land was used for farming corn and potatoes. From the 1940’s through the 1960’s, Ninigret Refuge was a U.S. Naval Auxiliary Landing Field. More than 70 acres of tree and shrub vegetation were cleared and maintained as asphalt runways and taxiways. Adjacent areas maintained as grasslands were planted with nonnative species like larch and autumn olive. Between 1945 and 1973, 107 acres at the center of the Sachuest Point peninsula were used as an Army Coastal Defense site and a Navy firing range. Around a more recent Naval communications center, mowing and the use of herbicides maintained the vegetation in a low shrub-grasslands.