Staff are located at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Sussex, NJ and may be reached by phone from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 973-702-7266. General e-mail inquiries may be directed to email@example.com
Protect Your Refuge – Wildlife Comes First
Many bird species may be found in the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge throughout the
year, but this very special place is especially known for the spectacular Short-eared Owls and
other raptors that visit in winter. They rely on our grassland habitat to rest and feed before
migrating to their northern nesting grounds. Receiving adequate rest and forage prior to migration
is critical to their conservation. Spring sees the arrival of Bobolinks, Grasshopper Sparrows, and
numerous other species that choose to raise their families here. Year-round residents may include
Eastern Meadowlarks and overwintering American Kestrels. Other wildlife found in our Refuge
includes fox, mink, fisher, raccoon, short-tailed weasel, white-tailed deer, black bear, and
Please follow these guidelines to avoid disturbance and/or harassment of wildlife
• View wildlife at a safe distance from the parking lot, observation platform area, gazebo, or
designated Refuge trails.
• Respect Refuge trail closure signs. Do not venture off-trail into sensitive habitat in pursuit
of owls or other wildlife.
• Owls, harriers, bobolinks, and meadowlarks are among the Refuge’s ground-roosting birds. Avoid
flushing them or causing them to alter normal behavior, as unnecessary amounts of energy expended
by birds flushing would otherwise be used for migrating or just surviving a cold winter's night. Of
particular note, Short-eared Owls are a New York State Endangered Species, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Migratory Bird of Conservation Concern in the Northeast, and a Partners in Flight North
American Landbird Conservation Plan priority grassland species.
• Owls have keen eyesight but it is sound that helps them locate prey that’s out of sight,
underneath deep snow, or below layers of vegetation. The noise level generated by human visitors
impedes their efforts and must be kept down. Please avoid shouting, noisy car radios, beeping car
alarms, loud cell phones, etc.
• Do not bait or artificially feed wildlife. The use of electronic bird calls is prohibited
everywhere in the Refuge.
• Pets are not allowed; service dogs are welcome. Bicycles are not permitted on the trails; and
visitors on foot, cross-country skis, snowshoes, etc., must remain on designated trails. Drones are
• Smoking or vaping anywhere in the Refuge is prohibited. The use of heaters anywhere in the
Refuge is prohibited.
• Owls, harriers, hawks, wild turkeys, and turtles are often found foraging alongside or on the
driveway. Human visitors walking on the driveway are not always immediately visible. There are
speed bumps along the driveway and 5 mph speed limit signs are posted. For the safety of all, do
not exceed the speed limit.
• The Refuge is open daily from sunrise to sunset. As you prepare to leave at day’s end, avoid
shining your car headlights out into the Refuge for an excessive time. It is disruptive to the
nocturnal species such as owls that are foraging in the darkness.
• All plants and animals, parts thereof, and other objects of nature are protected from
disturbance. Collection is prohibited.
Observation platform, gazebo, and main parking area
• Our Refuge not only provides much-needed quality habitat to grassland-dependent species, it also
provides exceptional year-round opportunities for viewing its wildlife.
• When visiting our observation platform, please note the designated fenced area alongside and in
front of it that visitors may also use. Standing in the habitat in front of or alongside this
designated area or underneath the platform is prohibited. Visitors and their equipment, e.g.,
tripods, monopods, equipment bags, etc., must remain within the fenced areas.
• Remember to share the view. Kindly do not set up photographic or viewing equipment and leave it
unattended as a space saver. Unattended equipment may be removed at the owner’s risk.
• The observation platform, its ramp, surrounding areas, trails, etc., may become icy or slippery.
Please enter at your own risk.
• When viewing wildlife from our main parking area, be mindful of those who remain seated in their
vehicles, especially those in the designated handicapped parking spots. Do not set up directly in
front of them and block their view. When in doubt, ask before setting up.
• Our gazebo provides some protection from the elements. Membership forms for our “Friends of
Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge” plus a bird seed donation box are located at it.
Enjoy visiting our beautiful gazebo and when you do, please consider becoming a member or dropping
a monetary contribution into the box.
• Remember to be quiet and courteous so we can all enjoy the beautiful wildlife at our
The Refuge Manager is responsible for balancing the needs of wildlife and public recreation. To
-Jared Green (USFWS Refuge Specialist): 978-440-0280 Jared_Green@fws.gov
-Mike McMenamin (USFWS Law Enforcement): 973 417-9556