The Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1992 on a portion of the former Pease Air Force Base in Newington, NH. The 1,089-acre refuge was created to encourage the natural diversity of plants and wildlife, protect endangered and threatened species, and to enhance the water quality of aquatic habitats. A variety of habitats are found on the refuge, including upland forest, grassland, salt marsh, freshwater, and seven miles of intertidal shoreline. The refuge also manages the 28-acre Karner Blue Butterfly conservation easement, located 45 miles west in Concord, NH. The easement is one of the few remaining parcels of pine barren habitat in the state and is home to the federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly. Both Great Bay refuge and the Karner Blue Butterfly easement are administered by Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, located in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
The refuge plays an important role in the network of conserved lands and partner programs in and around the Great Bay estuary. Its unique habitats support a multitude of plants, fish and wildlife. The estuary and adjacent habitats provide a major wintering and migration stopover for 20 species of waterfowl, 27 species of shorebirds, and 13 species of wading birds. The bay area serves as New Hampshire's primary wintering area for black ducks and as migration and wintering habitat for the federally-protected bald eagle. Many state protected species use the refuge as well, including the common loon, pied-billed grebe, osprey, common tern, northern harrier and upland sandpiper.
Visitors to Great Bay refuge enjoy opportunities for wildlife observation and photography along the Peverly Pond and Ferry Way trails and hinting in the fall for white-tailed deer. The Karner Blue Butterfly easement offers opportunities to view a variety of songbirds and butterflies along its trails.
The refuge trails and headquarters are located at 100 Merrimac Drive in Newington. Trails are open seven days a week, from dawn until dusk. Visit or contact Parker River NWR for more information.
Click HERE to visit the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge website.