USFWS & Refuge logoFirst a watershed, then a refuge

Over 12,000 years ago a receding glacier left a watershed in its wake. But it wasn’t until 1952 that the Connecticut River Watershed Council was founded to protect the waters flowing through that ancient footprint. Forty-five years later CRWC worked tirelessly to help establish the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. With that designation, this watershed’s protection—that of its fish, wildlife, waters, and lands, became a national commitment.

In 1997 the entire Connecticut River watershed was designated as the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The Conte Refuge is the only refuge in the country that includes an entire watershed as its borders and includes multiple states. Its founding was based on conservation, science and partnerships rather than the traditional refuge model of purchasing large tracts of land and leaving them relatively undisturbed.

It was CRWC who donated the first parcel of land to establish the Conte Refuge. The Refuge was a direct reflection and match for CRWC’s work as the sole independent watchdog for the entire Connecticut River basin.  Today the Friends of the Conte Refuge is a strong collaboration of over 40 organizations that work together to support the mission of the Conte Refuge.