Tag Archives: refuge

Moosehorn Hooks in Veterans

The sun shined bright for veterans on Tuesday, June 12th as family, friends, and fish gathered to celebrate the Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring, Maine. Service volunteers joined forces with the Maine Veterans’ Home, the Cobscook Bay State Park, the Maine Warden Service and the Friends of Moosehorn to provide a day’s worth of fishing and recreation.


Friends and family spend the day fishing with U.S. Veterans at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring, Maine, for the Service’s Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day.

Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge consists of nearly 30,000 acres of federally protected lands in eastern Maine including rolling hills, large ledge outcrops, streams, lakes, bogs, and marshes. Peggy Sawyer, Moosehorn Administrative Assistant and Annual Veterans Fishing Day volunteer confidently commented, “Lesson learned: sun shining on the water, a fishing rod and a hungry fish can soothe a troubled spirit and make a heart smile.”


A U.S. Veteran sits by a toddler whom is fishing at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge (NWF) for the Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day.

Sawyer, though not a fan of recreational fishing or freshwater fish in general, expressed that, “The simple pleasure of reeling in a fish and the anticipation of fresh trout for supper lit their faces with smiles. I even heard a few belly laughs! Whether they came to fish, or just to get some fresh air and feel the sun, they made new memories however fleeting.”


A young man and a U.S. Navy Seal Veteran bait a hook to fish at the Refuge.

Volunteers, family, and friends gathered worms, baited hooks, and casted lines for the men and women who are now veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Refuge manager Keith Ramos commented, “Getting to spend a day with men and women who served our country is a great honor and privilege.”


Joe McBrine, Maine Game Warden, smiles, holding a fish in hand, kneeling beside a giddy senior whom is fishing at the Refuge.

USFWS volunteer Tabitha Ramos commented, “Many of these men and women had not been able to fish in years. One gentleman said the last time he picked up a pole was 60 years ago. Many haven’t fished due to access and mobility, so together USFWS and the State made it possible for them to fish for the day.”

If you’re interested in learning more, please visit the USFWS Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge home page for more information. If you’re interested in getting involved, the ‘Get Involved’ page is available to learn ways in which you can help now.



11 interesting facts about USFWS lighthouses

When I was a kid traveling on vacation with my family, my mom would have my younger brother and me pose together in front of the few lighthouses we passed along the way for an obligatory photo op.

Sweet lighthouse not on a refuge. Great Point Lighthouse on Nantucket is surrounded by Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge

It is one of the most notable memories of my vacations, visiting the lighthouses, the towering structures,  spiraling staircases to the top, the expansive view,  the design and color originality.

Lighthouses connect us to an earlier time when they once guided ships safely home.

There are many lighthouses on national wildlife refuges. Eleven in the northeast region alone! Here are 11 interesting facts about  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lighthouses:

1) Egg Rock Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge recently won honorary mention of the 2016 Historic Preservation Award for recent restoration work on their buildings as well as lighthouses! Egg Rock Lighthouse is an area specifically for protected birds. What a fitting name!

MCI lighthouse

Egg Rock Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands before (left) and after (right) preservation Credit: USFWS

2) Monomoy Point Lighthouse at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts was one of the first lighthouses in the nation to be built from cast iron. The land it sits on is constantly shifting, intermittently changing from a peninsula off of Chatham into two islands: Northern and Southern Monomoy. Since a storm in April 2017, the land is currently separated, but in time it may be part of the mainland again.

Lighthouse at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge Credit: USFWS

3) Falkner Island Lighthouse at Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut, built in 1802, was termed the ‘Eiffel Tower of Long Island Sound.’ During the early 1800’s the keeper installed a bowling alley and a bar, until a law was enacted prohibiting the sale of liquor on lighthouse property.

faulkner lighthouse

Falkner Island Lighthouse at Stewart B. Mckinney National Wildlife Refuge Credit: USFWS

4) Assateague Lighthouse at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia resembles a 142-foot candy cane. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and has a light that can be seen 19 miles out at sea.

Assateague Lighthouse at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Credit: Eric B. Walker/Creative Commons

5) Pond Island lighthouse at Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge, part of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, is the smallest lighthouse on a national wildlife refuge in the region, standing a mere 20 feet. Despite its name, there isn’t a fresh body of water located anywhere on the rocky island!

Pond Island Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Credit: USFWS

6) Thacher Island lighthouse at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts are America’s only identical twin lighthouses. The north tower, owned by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, has 156 steps winding to the top with a view overlooking Rockport Harbor. The south tower is owned by the Town of Rockport. The twin lights were one of the first lighthouses to be used to warn sailors of a “high risk area,” of rocks or shallow water, rather than solely as a harbor entrance light.

Thatcher Island Twin Lighthouses at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Credit:Paul Gagnon/CC

7) Finns Point Rear Range Lighthouse at Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey helped settlers continue upriver, passing between Reedy Island and Baker Shoal in search of fertile land on the east bank of the Delaware River.

Finns Point Lighthouse at Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Credit: Stephen Harris/CC

8) Matinicus Rock Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge was run by a lighthouse keeper’s teenage daughter, Abbie Burgess, in 1856 after her father was not able to return home from a trip to the mainland. She oversaw the lighthouse independently for 21 days keeping the lighthouse running during a treacherous storm.

Matinicus Rock Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Credit: Allan Wood

9) Libby Island Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge is situated near the area of where one of the first naval battles of the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Machias, took place in 1775.

Libby Island Lighthouse

Libby Island Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex Credit: USFWS

10) Two Bush lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge is named after two trees that once stood as distinguishable landmarks to mariners.

Two Bush Lighthouse

Two Bush Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Credit: David Nicholls/Creative Commons

11. Petit Manan Lighthouse at Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge was authorized for construction by President James Monroe in 1817 to serve as a guide for ships towards several bays and harbors in the vicinity and also to warn mariners of a dangerous bar between the island and Petit Manan Point on the mainland. A visit to this lighthouse would also give you the chance to see Atlantic puffins! ‘Manan’ is a micmac word meaning ‘island.’

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Petit Manan lighthouse Credit: Greg Thompson/USFWS

I encourage you to visit these historic landmarks, and the national wildlife refuges where they’re located. Don’t forget to take a silly picture or two…

  • Egg Rock Lighthouse: Maine Coastal Islands NWR; Winter Harbor, ME. Accessibility: the lighthouse is not open to the public and is best observed by boat.
  • Monomoy Point Lighthouse: Monomoy NWR; Chatham, MA. Accessibility: Pre-scheduled tours.
  • Falker Island Lighthouse: Stewart B. McKinney NWR; New Haven, CT. Accessibility: the lighthouse is not open to the public.
  • Assateague Lighthouse: Chincoteague NWR, Assateague Island, VA. Accessibility: the lighthouse is open on weekends in April through November from 9am to 3pm.
  • Pond Island Lighthouse: Maine Coastal Islands NWR; Phippsburg, ME. Accessibility: the lighthouse is not open to the public and is best observed by boat.
  • Thacher Island Lighthouse: Parker River NWR; Rockport, MA.  Accessibility:  the lighthouse is closed to the public currently.
  • Finn’s Point Rear Range Lighthouse: Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge; Pennsville, NJ. Accessibility: Pre-scheduled open house tours.
  • Matinicus Rock Lighthouse: Maine Coastal Islands NWR; Matinicus Isle, ME. Accessibility: the lighthouse is not open to the public and is best observed by boat.
  • Libby Islands Lighthouse: Maine Coastal Islands NWR; Machiasport, ME. Accessibility:  the lighthouse is not open to the public and is best observed by boat.
  • Two Bush Island Lighthouse: Maine Coastal Islands NWR; Spruce Head, ME. Accessibility: the lighthouse is not open to the public and is best observed by boat.
  • Petit Manan Lighthouse: Maine Coastal Islands NWR; Steuben, ME. Accessibility: the lighthouse is not open to the public and is best observed by boat.

Fall into Lore at Great Dismal Swamp

Legends of pirates’ loot, lost vessels, and hidden colonies….8263420592_871ae84492_n

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge’s fall festival was unlike any other. Their 2016 refuge event, located in Southeastern Virginia, encompassed a wide range of activities for all ages, and offered a mesmerizing mix of historical lore and legends with guided tours in and around the swamp. In addition to this was an author’s book talk and a recreational craft station for the younger folks. The event was short and sweet, lasting on a Sunday from sun up until four.


The refuge manager, Chris Lowie (pictured middle), even got involved by dressing up as President George Washington, who had visited the swamps back in the 1760s and purchased some of the Dismal Swamp land for his logging company. Children often tried to guess who Lowie’s historical character could be.


A crowd of mostly young adults came out for the book talk to discuss “Unbound: A Novel In Verse,” written by award winning author Ann E Burg. This novel is about a young slave girl and her family escaping familial separation to find a safe haven deep within the remote wilderness of  Great Dismal Swamp.  Even though this is a fictional story, the swamp has been directly connected to maroons or escaped slaves, and historians have discovered artifacts of small colonies where maroons hid to find freedom. Native Americans helped the refugee slaves acclimate to the challenges of living in the swamp’s environment.

This Fall festival provided a craft-making area for kids where fire fly lamps of plastic cups and lights were made to reflect the poem “A Ballad: A Lake of the Dismal Swamp” by Sir Thomas More.

“Away to the Dismal Swamp he speeds, –

His path was rugged and sore,

Through tangled juniper, beds of reeds”




Volunteers also dressed in colonial garb and spoke of mythological stories and legends, while stationed along the guided tour. “The White Deer – Virginia Dare” was one of the tour stories told about a young colonist girl who wandered into the swampy woods and was accidentally shot with a special arrow by a man of the Chowan tribe. He had been hunting a rare white deer, which was known throughout the nation that this prize would make him the greatest hunter of all. After not being able to locate what his arrow had hit, he returns home.  The young girl, being hit directly in the heart, turns into a white deer and is said to wander the swamp immortal and mysteriously majestic.


Another story being read by a costumed lady pirate (pictured above in black), is “French Gold,” a myth about a plundering french ship washing up in the Great Dismal Swamp area after its crew tried to flee from a Vessel of British Soldiers. The group of French pirates fled on foot. They carried as much gold as they could and eventually buried it, but were ultimately followed by the soldiers and eventually killed. Legend has it the gold is supposedly buried deep within the swamps, and the eerie voices of the deceased pirates call out to locate their cursed looted treasure. Fake gold coins were placed around the refuge and children could find and collect them along the tour as well.

Great Dismal Swamp will continue their Fall Festival tradition next year and plans to include more costumed characters in the future.

For more information on Great Dismal Swamp Widlife Refuge, you can refer to this link: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/great_dismal_swamp/

Whether you are visiting Great Dismal Swamp to see wildlife, explore and learn about the swamp’s rich history, or get involved in some fun activities, Great Dismal Swamp provides an abundance of reasons one should come out and visit this year!