The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
Located within parts of four New England states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is the only refuge of its kind to encompass an entire watershed. This unique refuge design was proposed by Congressman Silvio O. Conte who had "...a dream that included a Connecticut River, cleaned, fishable, swimmable, and with salmon restored to abundant numbers.” He also dreamed that someday his children and grandchildren would continue to enjoy the outdoors as he had, and not “be saddled with a planet polluted beyond repair.” In 1991, he asked Congress to establish a National Wildlife Refuge to protect the watershed of the river and its wildlife resources. In 1997 the refuge named in his honor was established to fulfill that dream. The refuge was designed to include the entire Connecticut River watershed because legislators realized that, in order to protect migratory fish and other aquatic species, there was a need to protect the whole river system and its watershed; the health of any aquatic ecosystem is linked to the health of the whole watershed upstream. It is one of only three refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System that has Fish in its title.
The Connecticut River is treasured by all for its majesty and significance in
supporting diverse aquatic and terrestrial plant and animal life along its winding
410-mile passage through urban and rural communities in New Hampshire,
Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Working with our partners, we are
inspired to protect and enhance the natural and cultural richness throughout
the watershed, especially on lands and waters entrusted to our agency as the
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Together with our partners, we design, support, and implement strategic
conservation actions across the watershed, and communicate conservation needs
and successes through extensive outreach and education programs. On refuge
lands, and in our conservation partnership areas, we offer visitor programs
and activities that promote an appreciation of the Connecticut River watershed
as an intact, interconnected, and healthy ecosystem. Visitors respond to this
greater awareness by becoming active stewards of the watershed’s natural and
cultural resources. Through our Urban Partnership Program, we are promoting
the relevancy of conservation to healthy communities. Our actions exemplify
the Service’s vital role in conserving the Connecticut River watershed and the
refuge’s important contribution to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge
Who is Silvio. O. Conte?
Silvio O. Conte was an avid sportsman and environmentalist who represented Massachusetts in Congress for 32 years. To ensure the protection of the Connecticut River watershed, he introduced federal legislation establishing the refuge that now bears his name.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Currently, the refuge is comprised of nearly 40,000 acres within parts of the four Connecticut River watershed states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The refuge includes ten divisions and twelve units that represent a wide variety of unique habitats.