Despite chronic under-funding and a $3.3 billion maintenance and operations backlog on exiting federal wildlife refuges, on October 25 the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the creation of a new, 15,000-acre wildlife refuge, The Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge, made up of 10 areas scattered across six Northeastern states.
DOI claims the Great Thicket Refuge is necessary to maintain shrubland and young forests in the region, most of which have been developed or allowed to grow into mature forests. DOI says populations of New England cottontails and more than 65 species of songbirds, mammals, reptiles, and other imperiled wildlife depend on shrublands and young forest to survive.
DOI says the refuge will be assembled over the coming decades from willing landowners in areas of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island, with the Fish and Wildlife Service planning to acquire the property through various methods, including conservation easements, donations or fee-title acquisition. The agency expects the process to cost between $84 million and $129 million.
Great Thicket will be the 17th national wildlife refuge President Obama has created since taking office in 2009.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.