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Wallkill River
National Wildlife Refuge

Liberty Marsh
1547 County Route 565
Sussex, NJ   07461 - 4013
E-mail: wallkillriver@fws.gov
Phone Number: 973-702-7266
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Liberty Marsh
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Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
The Wallkill River NWR is located in Sussex County, New Jersey and Orange County, New York. Congress established the refuge in 1990 to preserve and enhance lands and waters in a manner that conserves the natural diversity of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for present and future generations. The management emphasis is on Federally-listed endangered and threatened species, migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, nesting and wintering grassland birds, and forest-dwelling birds.

The refuge also provides opportunities for public use. There are 3 nature trails for wildlife observation, three fishing access sites on the Wallkill River and three canoe access sites. The refuge also provides hunting opportunities.

As of 2007, the refuge encompassed about 5,100 acres. Land acquisition is still proceeding. The refuge enjoys strong support from the community.

The refuge staff also manage an unstaffed satellite, the Shawangunk Grassland NWR in Ulster County, New York.

Getting There . . .
From I-95 in South Jersey, take I-95 North (NJ Turnpike)to I-287 North. Then take State Route 23 North, through Hamburg, and turn right onto County Route 565 North (Glenwood Rd) by the Bank of New York in Wantage. The Refuge headquarters is 1.5 miles on left.

Traveling East on I-84 from Pennsylvania, travel across the Delaware River to New York State. Take New York State Exit 1 (Sussex, NJ) and travel south on State Route 23. Continue on State Route 23 through the borough of Sussex. Turn left on County Route 565 North (Glenwood Rd). Refuge Headquarters is 1.5 miles on left.

Traveling West on I-84 in New York State, take Exit 3W (Middletown)and after turning right off exit ramp, immediately get in left turning lane and turn left onto Route 6W. Travel 3.5 miles to Slate Hill. Turn left onto Route 284 South. Travel 9.1 miles to Unionville, NY. Turn left onto State Line Rd. After 1.3 miles, you pass over the Wallkill River (State Line turns into Oil City Rd). Continue another 1.3 miles to the stop sign. Turn right onto Liberty Corners Rd (This will become Lake Wallkill Rd. when you cross into New Jersey). Travel 1.4 miles to a fork in the road; stay left on Lake Wallkill Rd/Rt.667. Travel 5.6 miles to Route 565. Turn right on Route 565 South. Refuge Headquarters is 1 mile on right.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

A variety of habitats, including red maple swamps, calcareous fens, wet meadows, old fields, and oak-beech forests are found throughout the refuge. Associated with these habitats is an ever-changing variety of plants and wildlife.

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The refuge has a long and varied history. First, it was a home to native Americans, then farmers. Now, as farming declines, tourism and service are becoming the predominant economic activities and people both live and vacation in this semi-rural corner of New Jersey.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Approximately 1,800 acres of the refuge is grassland and old field. Cooperative farmers hay and graze approximately 500 acres of cool season grasslands. These grasslands are dominated by orchard grass, timothy, Kentucky bluegrass, smooth brome, and reed canary-grass. Refuge staff planted a diverse mix of warm season grasses on 57 acres. These grasses include big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian grass, and switchgrass. Most fields are in the oldfield stage of succession and are composed of a wide diversity of broadleaf plants, including goldenrods, asters, common milkweed, Canada thistle, wild bergamot, ox-eye daisy, and common mullein.

Besides haying and mowing, the refuge also has a prescribed burning program. The objective with both projects is to restore natural grassland conditions to support nesting for grassland dependent birds.

The land adjacent to Liberty Loop Trail was managed as a sod farm for several decades prior to refuge acquisition in 1994. During this agricultural period, miles of ditches and a perimeter dike system were installed to drain the wetlands and segregate the site from the natural hydrology of the river. Despite these degradations the site is still used by thousands of ducks and geese during flood events. However, the remaining sod farm infrastructure still rapidly drains water off the area when the river recedes and wildlife use of the site is minimized.

The new dikes and water control structures will restore the wetlands and provide maximum flexibility to manage the site for wetland dependent wildlife. The site will primarily be managed as seasonally flooded wetlands for migrating waterfowl. However, the new infrastructure will enable the refuge to fully integrate management of the site for nongame wildlife as well. The site will be de-watered over winter to ensure continued use by wintering raptors such as short-eared owl, northern harrier, and rough-legged hawk. Summer drawdowns will be conducted to concentrate fish for herons and egrets. Also, some units will be disced and flooded to provide mudflat habitat for migrating shorebirds. Other areas will be used for nesting by grassland-dependent songbirds.

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