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John H. Chafee
National Wildlife Refuge

Narragansett/South Kingstown, RI   02882
Phone Number: 401-364-9124
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John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge

Located within the picturesque Narrow River on the Southern Coast of Rhode Island, this Refuge is comparatively small in size, but big in protecting the unique features of this area.

At 317 acres, the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for the largest black duck population in Rhode Island, and is recognized under international agreements as a critically important area for this species. The scenic vistas offered by the refuge and surrounding areas is well noted and attracts people from throughout the region.

Originally named the Pettaquamscutt Cove National Wildlife Refuge in 1988, it was renamed the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge in 1999, in honor of the late Senator who was a leading conservationist in the nation, and a strong supporter of the Refuges in Rhode Island.

This unique 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, 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 special events, and knowledgeable people where visitors can come and explore the refuges and learn about the wildlife resources and coastal environments of each refuge.

The refuge contains expansive saltmarsh habitats and adjacent uplands which teem with a variety of wildlife including great egrets, herons, and several species of plovers and other shorebirds.

Getting There . . .
The refuge is located in the Towns of Narragansett and South Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island. Virtually all refuge lands are not readily accessible by road. Taking a canoe or kayak across Pettaquamscutt Cove and in the Lower Narrow River is the easiest way to experience the refuge.

Exceptional viewing of the refuge can be had from the Sprague Bridge in Narragansett on Boston Neck Road, or on Middlebridge in Narragansett.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Over 200 different species occupying a variety of habitats call the refuge home. Pettaquamscutt Cove is an estuary which teams with a wide variety of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds throughout the year. Black bellied plovers can be seen searching the mudflats for insects, and mussels and clams hidden in the flats add to the areas quality. Black Ducks ply the waterways, and young piping plovers can be seen in late summer. Osprey search the area for one of the over 20 fish species which occur in the lower Narrow River and Pettaquamscutt Cove.

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Originally established in 1988 as the Pettaquamscutt Cove National Wildlife Refuge, the name was changed to honor one of the great conservation leaders of our time, the late Senator John H. Chafee. Now named the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge at Pettaquamscutt Cove, the Refuge encompasses 317 acres, with our approved Land Protection Plan calling for future expansion of the refuge by another 800 acres.

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Management Activities
Land acquisition is a priority for this refuge, given the rapid rate of development adjacent to the refuge, and the high demand for land in the area. Land exchanges, and purchase of important habitats in coordination with our conservation partners is an ongoing effort.

Because of the small parcels of land with intermingled ownership,coordination with private landowners and local municipalities is an important aspect of management.

While refuge lands are small, they lie adjacent to other lands set aside for conservation. Refuge lands function in concert with these adjacent areas in providing a contiguous reserve of protected habitat. Due to the strong conservation ethic held by our local towns and citizenry, these efforts are resulting in tangible, positive benefits to protection of resource values and National Wildlife Refuge lands.