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Great Meadows
National Wildlife Refuge

73 Weir Hill Road
Sudbury, MA   01776
E-mail: fw5rw_emnwr@fws.gov
Phone Number: 978-443-4661
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Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is located just 20 miles west of Boston. The refuge was established in 1947 to provide nesting, resting, and feeding habitat for migratory birds. Roughly 85 percent of the refuge's 3,600 acres is comprised of valuable freshwater wetlands stretching along 12 miles of the Concord and Sudbury Rivers. Well known for its birdwatching opportunities, the public can also enjoy a variety of other wildlife-dependent recreational activities while visiting the refuge.

Refuge landscapes inspired the thoughts of such storied environmental philosophers as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. More than a century and a half later, summer recreationists sun themselves along the shores of nearby Walden Pond--now protected as a state park. Paddling through the refuge along the Concord River, canoeists may pass below the Old North Bridge--the site of America's birth that is now managed by Minute Man National Historical Park.

Getting There . . .
The Sudbury Unit is located in Sudbury, Massachusetts and is open from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. To reach the office and visitor center at Weir Hill, follow Route 27 (1.7 miles) from Wayland and turn right onto Water Row Road. Follow Water Row Road (1.2 miles) until it ends and turn right onto Lincoln Road. Travel one half mile, turn left onto Weir Hill Road and follow to the end. The Concord Unit is located on Monsen Road, off of Route 62, in Concord, Massachusetts, and is open from sunrise to sunset.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Great Meadows NWR lies within a region uniquely rich in natural and cultural resources.

A great diversity of birds have been recorded at the refuge. Several species of waterfowl, including mallards, black ducks, wood ducks, and blue-winged teal nest here. While-tailed deer, muskrats, red fox, raccoons, cottontail rabbits, weasels, beaver, squirrels, and a variety of small mammals are common. Many species of amphibians and reptiles are active during the warmer months.

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The Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of more than 540 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System throughout the United States. The National Wildlife Refuge System is the world's largest and most diverse collection of lands and waters specifically set aside for the conservation and management of wildlife resources. Great Meadows NWR is one of eight refuges comprising the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex. These ecologically diverse refuges include the Assabet River, Great Meadows, Mashpee, Massasoit, Monomoy, Nantucket, Nomans Land Island, and Oxbow NWRs.

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Management Activities
Refuge managers employ a variety of tools to support the goal of biological diversity. Water level manipulation in the refuge's two impoundments creates favorable conditions for a diversity of wildlife species. The draining of each pool is variably timed to benefit different groups of migrating birds. One pool is drained earlier in the season to encourage the growth of native forage plants that benefit fall-migrating waterfowl. The other pool is drained later in the summer to expose the invertebrate-rich mud flats that provide food for wading birds such as herons and egrets. Both pools are flooded in the fall and remain inundated until the following spring and summer. In addition to providing improved wildlife habitat, the refuge's new water level management strategy has resulted in a decrease of the alien invasive water chestnut.

The occurrence of invasive plants (native and non-native), at Great Meadows NWR has a depreciative effect on the value of refuge lands and waters to wildlife. The first step in managing invasive species is to determine the identity, distribution, and prevalence of each species. Refuge biologists, ably assisted by a group of committed volunteers, are mapping invasive species at Great Meadows. Data collected in the field with geographic positioning system (GPS) units will ultimately be mapped and analyzed using the station's new geographic information system (GIS) equipment. The resulting invasive plant inventory will provide the baseline information needed in order to produce a new habitat management plan for the refuge. The same volunteers who assisted with the plant inventory work also collected plant specimens for a new and valuable herbarium at the refuge.