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.
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.