National Wildlife Refuge
New Shoreham, RI 02807
Phone Number: 401-364-9124
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Block Island National Wildlife Refuge
Located approximately 12 miles offshore on picturesque Block Island, this small refuge provides important habitat for wildlife, and a place for people to appreciate the natural environment of the island. The refuge was established in 1973 with the transfer of 28 acres from the U.S. Coast Guard, and has grown to it's current size of 127 acres today.
Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is administered as part of the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which manages all five of the National Wildlife Refuges in Rhode Island, and is headquartered in Charlestown, Rhode Island.
The new Kettle Pond Visitor Center and headquarters located in Charlestown, RI,which opened in October 2005, celebrates the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge and all of the other refuges in Rhode Island. This facility contains interactive exhibits, displays, a sales area, classrooms for speciel events, and knowledgeable people where visitors can come and explore the refuges and learn about the wildlife resources and coastal environments of each refuge.
Refuge lands on Block Island are most notable for the large concentration (over 70 species) of migratory songbirds which visit the area each fall. Located in the Atlantic flyway, many young, inexperienced songbirds "overfly" the mainland and stopover on Block Island before continuing their migration. The result is a cornucopia of young migratory songbirds from a variety of different species. Block Island is internationally recognized as one of the most important migratory bird habitats on the east Coast, attracting hundreds of "birders" to the Island each fall.
The refuge also provides habitat for the Endangered American Burying Beetle, supporting the only population of this species known East of the Mississippi River. Piping plover occur on the Island (a threatened Species) as do four other State species of concern. The refuge is also home to the largest gull colony in Rhode Island.
Getting There . . .
In Narragansett, Rhode Island you can catch the Block Island ferry from Point Judith on route 108. Call ahead for reservations, particularly if you are bringing a vehicle. The refuge is located on the North End of Block Island. From the ferry terminal on Block Island, turn right. At the first stop sign turn right onto Corn Neck Road. Continue to its end, and from the parking lot, walk the beaches of the Refuge.
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Through a cooperative management strategy with the Town of New Shoreham, the Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, the Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island, and the U.S. Coast Guard, the refuge employs a seasonal biological technician to survey island beaches for the threatened Piping Plover, a rare species which has attempted nesting on the island over the past several years. The technician also provides information and education to visitors using the various beaches on the Island.
While the refuge currently only contains 127 acres, much of the adjacent lands are held by a variety of different landowners who manage their lands for natural resource protection. Therefore, while National Wildlife Refuge System lands are small, they function in concert with other conservation lands to provide a significant reserve of contiguous protected area, important to survival of many of the Island's endemic species. Cooperative management is a valuable conservation tool and is the standard for preserving Block Island's unique natural history.
In the coming years, refuge staff will be working with several partners on the Island to develop a public use plan for the refuge and other conservation lands on the island.
Land acquisition has been and continues to be a priority for the Service because of the high demand for land on Block Island and the need to protect trust resources here. In 2002, 25 acres were added to the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge.