Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was established in 1997 to conserve, protect and enhance the abundance and diversity of native plant, fish and wildlife species and the ecosystems on which they depend throughout the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed. The watershed covers large areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. It contains a great diversity of habitats, notably: northern forest valuable as nesting habitat for migrant thrushes, warblers and other birds; rivers and streams used by shad, salmon, herring and other migratory fishes; and an internationally significant complex of high-quality tidal fresh, brackish and salt marshes.
The refuge works in partnership with a wide variety of individuals and organizations to provide environmental education, to encourage and support appropriate habitat conservation and management on public and private lands, and to protect additional habitat.
The refuge has three cooperative visitor centers: in Colebrook, New Hampshire; at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont; and Great Falls Discovery Center near the headquarters in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. The Refuge currently consists of seven Units (small tracts) and two Divisions (large tracts)parcels: 33 acres of wetlands and a riverine sand spit that hosts a federally-listed beetle in Cromwell, Connecticut; a 4 acre island in Deerfield, Massachusetts; 30 acres at the base of Mt. Toby in Sunderland, Massachusetts; an 18 acre upland and wetland parcel in Westfield, Massachusetts; 140 acres on Mt. Tom in Holyoke, Massachusetts; 20 acres along the river in Greenfield, Massachusetts; 278 acres which host a federally endangered plant in Putney, Vermont; 3,670 acres surrounding the. Audubon Society of NHs Pondicherry Refuge in Jefferson, NH; and 26,000 acres in the Nulhegan Basin in Essex County, Vermont.
Driving directions: Headquarters: Take Massachusetts Route 116 north from its intersection with Route 9 in Hadley, Massachusetts. After passing Annie's Garden Center, Bub's Barbeque, and a gas station on the right, take the next road to the right (E. Plumtree Road). Go down the road and turn in at the third building on the right. A large brown sign identifies this building as the Connecticut River Resource Center. Great Falls Discovery Center: Take Interstate 91to Exit 27 in Massachusetts. Take Route 2 east. Turn right at the second light and cross the bridge. The Discovery Center is in the first building to the right. Headquarters is in the Crocker Building, third building on the right. Conte Refuge Education Center at the Montshire Museum of Science: In Vermont, take Interstate 91 to Exit 13. Turn toward Hanover, New Hampshire. Look to the right for signs at entrance driveway just past the interstate overpass and exit ramp. Great North Woods Interpretive Center: From Colebrook, New Hampshire, drive north on Route 3 for 3 miles. The center is on the right. Nulhegan Basin Division: In Vermont, on Route 105 between Island Pond and Bloomfield. Headquarters is a red building on the north side of the road. Enter refuge roads at Stone Dam Road, also on the north side of the road.