Tuesday Trek: Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

I’m Tom Barnes — you might know me from my TGIF with Tom column. And now, I’m bringing you Tuesday Trek! Each Tuesday, I’ll give you some insight about a refuge destination you might enjoy. Planning a winter vacation? Spring break? I might know the perfect spot for your upcoming travels! 

I grew up near the Connecticut River Watershed, where many of the ponds and streams near my house were polluted, even after the manufacturing plants upriver had been shuttered for years. Fortunately for this fundamental part of the Northeast’s ecosystem, the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1997 to preserve and restore parcels of land along the Connecticut River watershed. Straddling four states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, the refuge is made up of a diverse mix of habitats, from Nulhegan Basin in Vermont to a four-acre island in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

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Encompassing over 31,000 acres, the refuge manages the complex by working with partners to conserve plants, wildlife and their habitats in the 7.2 million-acre watershed. It has not one, but three education centers, including the Discovery Center in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, that teaches visitors about the important work and research accomplished here. Named for the late Congressman, Silvio O. Conte, this refuge lives up to his dream: “a Connecticut River, cleaned, fishable, swimmable, and with salmon restored to abundant numbers. And a dream that someday my children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy the outdoors as I have, and not be saddled with a planet polluted beyond repair.”

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