Nellie Hill Butterfly
Butterfly Butterfly feeding on butterfly milkweed plant. © Ryan Donnell

Stories in New York

Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge

Establishing the Newest National Wildlife Refuge

What We Did

The Nature Conservancy’s donation of the Nellie Hill Preserve to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps to kick start Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s 566th national wildlife refuge. The 144-acre preserve is the first land acquisition for this unique national wildlife refuge that will over time conserve land in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island.

Why This Project Matters

Nellie Hill, an exceptional property with varying habitats and rare plants, has been managed by The Nature Conservancy for 25 years. It has become a hotspot for migrating birds and other wildlife and also provides an outdoor recreational opportunity for hikers, bird watchers, and others who enjoy spending time outdoors.

Transforming the legacy preserve into the first section of a 15,000-acre national wildlife refuge is a great example of how land conservation can provide multiple benefits to nature and people.

The establishment of the Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge is the first step toward ensuring the future of the iconic New England cottontail and other shrubland and young forest species, including the American woodcock and monarch butterfly.

Wildlife refuges and similar conserved areas enhance quality of life in the surrounding community by boosting land values and property taxes, serving as an amenity to help attract new residents and business, protecting clean air and water, and helping mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Thank You

The Nature Conservancy is grateful to our donors who enabled creation of the Nellie Hill Preserve so many years ago, as well our partners and friends at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who created Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge.

We are proud to be playing a part in establishing the newest national federal wildlife refuge.