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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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Patuxent Research Refuge

Established in 1936 by executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Patuxent Research Refuge is the Nation's only National Wildlife Refuge established to support wildlife research. With land surrounding the Patuxent and Little Patuxent Rivers between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, the Refuge has grown from the original 2,670 acres to its present size of over 12,800 acres and encompasses land formerly managed by the Departments of Agriculture and Defense. Throughout decades of change, Patuxent's mission of conserving and protecting the nation's wildlife and habitat through research and wildlife management techniques has remained virtually unchanged.

Patuxent Research Refuge supports a wide diversity of wildlife in forest, meadow, and wetland habitats. The land is managed to maintain biological diversity and to protect and benefit native and migratory bird species. During the fall and spring migrations, many waterfowl species stop to rest and feed. Over 270 species of birds occur on the Refuge. Bald eagles are occasionally seen feeding on the Refuge.

Increasing forest fragmentation in the area caused by urban development has damaged many populations of neotropical migratory birds. The Refuge is one of the largest forested areas in the mid-Atlantic region and provides critical breeding habitat and wintering habitat for these species.

Patuxent Research Refuge is divided into three areas: 1) North Tract, which offers hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, trails, and many interpretive programs; 2) Central Tract, where the headquarters for both the Refuge and the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center are located, as well as research study sites; and 3) South Tract, which has the National Wildlife Visitor Center, trails, and many educational programs. The North Tract and the National Wildlife Visitor Center are the only areas open for visitor activities.

Getting There . . .
National Wildlife Visitor Center is located off of Powdermill Rd. between Route 197 and Baltimore/Washington Parkway south of Laurel, Maryland. The North Tract is located off of Route 198 between Route 32 and Baltimore/Washington Parkway, east of Laurel.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Patuxent Research Refuge supports a wide diversity of wildlife in forest, meadow, and wetland habitats. The land is managed to maintain biological diversity for the protection and benefit of native and migratory species.

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Patuxent Research Refuge was established in 1936 as the Nation's first and only Research Refuge. The research function was transferred in the mid-1990s to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center is co-located on the Patuxent Research Refuge.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Most of the refuge is forested habitat, which are protected from disturbance. Most habitat management is focused on water level manipulations on the many wetland impoundments to benefit waterfowl and shorebirds, on open grassland/meadow areas maintained as grassland habitat and on the development of scrub-shrub habitat. Invasive species management is receiving more attention recently. Attempts are made to suppress the establishment and /or spread of unwanted non-native plants on Patuxent Research Refuge.