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Research Refuge

10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop
Laurel, MD   20708 - 4027
E-mail: Amy_Shoop@fws.gov
Phone Number: 301-497-5776
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Seasonal tram tours through the forests, meadows, and wetlands on the refuge.
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Although several conservation activities took place in the early 1900s, it was not until the 1930s that scientific wildlife management, and research to support it, were initiated. The formation of Patuxent was one of many wildlife conservation activities taking place in the mid-1930s. On December 16, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7514, which transferred 2670 acres of land, that had been acquired (or would be acquired) by the United States, to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a wildlife experiment and research refuge. The area delineated in the Order was located in Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties, Maryland, and was created "to effectuate further the purposes of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act." By order of the President the area was to be known as "the Patuxent Research Refuge."

The Refuge was dedicated on June 3, 1939 by Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace, who stated that "the chief purpose of this refuge is to assist in the restoration of wildlife - one of our greatest natural resources." Secretary Wallace recognized "the vision and foresight of Dr. Ira N. Gabrielson, Chief of the Biological Survey," and "the leadership of Dr. L. C. Morley, superintendent of the refuge." He further stated that the nation's first wildlife research station was "the manifestation of a national determination and a national ability to conserve and administer wisely the organic resources and products of the soil - a priceless heritage to the generations of Americans yet to come. Although Mr. Jay N. "Ding" Darling, former Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, was not mentioned in Secretary Wallace's address, many persons also credit his interest and support for the formation of the Patuxent Research Refuge.

The location of the Patuxent Research Refuge adjacent to the National Agriculture Research Center at Beltsville, Maryland, made it an appropriate area, according to Wallace, upon which to conduct "long-time studies on the interrelationships of wildlife with agriculture and forestry. Secretary Wallace and Dr. Gabrielson envisioned an area," where wildlife could be studied in relation to the production of agricultural crops, and where lands poorly suited for agriculture could be turned back into forests, fields, and meadows, thus again becoming productive for wildlife. The Refuge increased in size over the years through the acquisition of lands from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense. The Refuge is now over 12,800 acres, which are managed to support wildlife research and for a diversity of wildlife.

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