The centerpiece of the refuge, Lake Umbagog, stretches for seven miles along the Maine-New Hampshire border, forming the headwaters of the Androscoggin River and creating an extensive network of wetlands important for nesting and brood-rearing waterfowl and migratory birds.

An Opportunity for Expansion

In 2014, a 4,000-acre property – the largest unprotected parcel of land around Lake Umbagog and Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge – came up for sale. The Conservation Fund stepped in to purchase the property while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service secured the funding necessary to add the property to the refuge. With financing from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, the refuge completed the acquisition of the property in 2017.

Identified as a high conservation priority in the refuge’s 2009 Comprehensive Conservation Plan, the property overlooks the eastern shore of Lake Umbagog and encompasses marshes and backwaters, forested and shrub wetlands, and forested uplands. It also borders the Rapid River, one of the premier fly fishing destinations in the northeast United States.

The Conservation Fund has previously helped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protect several critical waterfront parcels at Lake Umbagog in New Hampshire, including a 1-acre island in the lake that contains four pairs of nesting loons.

Why This Project Matters

Incorporating this parcel into the refuge helps preserve the water quality of the Upper Androscoggin watershed. The Androscoggin River flows for 164 miles where it converges with the Kennebec River at Merrymeeting Bay and empties more than 4 billion gallons of water daily into the Gulf of Maine.

It also expands public access to recreational activities by extending the buffer along the popular Northern Forest Canoe Trail and connecting the property’s existing road system to the refuge and the state highway. Recreational activities such as camping, hiking, paddling, fishing and wildlife viewing are popular in and around the refuge and are key economic drivers in a region diversifying its resource-based economy.

This acquisition at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge complements efforts to protect land within the Northern Forest, which covers 30 million acres and is the largest continuous forest east of the Mississippi River.


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