The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing the creation of an extensive new wildlife refuge covering large portions of New England and New York.
The proposed Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge would cover roughly 15,000 acres across 10 areas in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.
Officials say the proposed refuge is an attempt to conserve and protect shrublands and young forest habitat across the Northeast. In a release this week, wildlife service officials said that, over the last century, many shrublands and young forests have either been cleared for development or grown into mature forests. As such landscapes disappear, wildlife that depends on them – such as songbirds, mammals, reptiles, pollinators and other wildlife – have had their numbers decrease dramatically. Conservationists have determined that more permanently protected and managed land is needed to restore these wildlife populations to Northeast woodlands.
Creating the refuge is expected to take years as officials work with landowners for acquisitions and easements.