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Rachel Carson
National Wildlife Refuge

Fall foliage at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
321 Port Road
Wells, ME   04090
E-mail: rachelcarson@fws.gov
Phone Number: 207-646-9226
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Fall foliage at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
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Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Scattered along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of ten divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. It will contain approximately 7,600 acres when land acquisition is complete.

Our namesake, Rachel Carson, was a world-renowned marine biologist, author and environmentalist. She served as an aquatic biologist and Editor-in-Chief for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During her tenure, she composed a series of articles on Atlantic Coast wildlife refuges.

Ms. Carson was born in Pennsylvania in 1907. Though the mystery of the sea and its creatures captivated her at an early age, the Maine coast particularly inspired her. Beginning in 1952, she summered on Southport Island, where she studied its beach and tide pools to research The Edge of the Sea (1955).

Through tireless investigation for her greatest work, Silent Spring (1962), she linked the unrestrained use of post-World War II chemical pesticides with fearsome, biological consequences. Overcoming industry and government pressure to abandon her research, she persevered. Carson simply and convincingly explained the connections between humans and all creatures of the Earth. She alerted generations to use chemicals with utmost caution, warning that their improper use has dreadful effects on public health and the environment.

Rachel Carson died in 1964, a victim of cancer. As fitting recognition of her tireless work, this refuge, first known as the Coastal Maine National Wildlife Refuge, was renamed in her honor on October 28, 1969 and formally dedicated June 27, 1970.

Getting There . . .
FROM MAINE TURNPIKE EXIT #2 (WELLS EXIT): At Exit #19, travel east on Route #109 / #9 to Wells. Turn left (north) onto Route #1. Proceed approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) and turn right (east) onto Route #9. Travel 0.7 miles (1.1 km); the Refuge will be on your right. Look for the large wooden sign at our entrance.

FROM ROUTE #1 NORTH: From points north of Wells on Route #1: Proceed south on Route #1 through Kennebunk. Approximately 3.0 miles (4.8 km) south of Kennebunk, turn left (east) onto Route #9. Proceed as above.

FROM ROUTE #1 SOUTH: From points south of Wells on Route #1: Proceed north on Route #1 through Wells. Turn right (east) onto Route #9 (approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of Wells Center). Proceed as above.

FROM KENNEBUNKPORT: Travel west on Route #9. Approximately 5 miles (8.1 km) from Kennebunkport Center, look for the large wooden sign at our entrance on the left.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The proximity of the refuge to the coast and its location between the eastern deciduous forest and the boreal forest creates a composition of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Maine.

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The southern Maine coast has been treasured for over 11,000 years.

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Management Activities
The piping plover is federally threatened and state endangered in Maine. Fifty to 75% of the Maine piping plover population nests at sites on or near the Refuge, including Crescent Surf Beach, Goosefare Brook, and Marshall Point at Goose Rocks.

Since 2000, the Refuge has assumed primary responsibility for monitoring piping plover sites on and off the Refuge at Parsons, Laudholm, and Ferry Beach. This involves working cooperatively with private landowners, Maine Audubon Society, state partners, and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve to protect nesting plovers on their lands. The piping plover recovery plan has a recovery objective of 1.5 chicks per pair average over five years (USFWS 1996).

The USFWS Region 5 initiated an effort to systematically identify, locate, and map invasive plant species occurring on Refuge lands leading to an effective integrated management plan. Refuges will use this information to guide the development of control, monitoring and evaluation projects.

The data will also be instrumental in developing refuge CCPs, HMPs and Integrated Pest Management Plans. The survey data for Rachel Carson NWR was provided to the Regional GIS specialist for developing GIS coverages for NWRs. Regional coverages will be consolidated for prioritization of regional initiatives for species control, monitoring rate of species spread, and evaluation.

The refuge appears to be quite clean, however this is largely due to our abundant and clean salt marsh habitats. Invasive plants with greater than 20 acres occurring throughout the refuge include: Asiatic bittersweet, bush honeysuckle, common barberry, glossy buckthorn, Japanese barberry and reed canary grass.

There are less than 15 acres of non-native and native phragmites combined on the refuge and less than 3 acres of purple loosestrife. Invasive plant management to date has largely focused on hand removal, biological control, and mechanical treatments. The refuge attempts to target new invasions of plants before they get out of control.