NINIGRET NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Named after one of the original chiefs of the Narragansett Indians, the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Southern Coast of Rhode Island in the Town of Charlestown, Washington County.
Perched on the shoreline of the largest saltpond in the State, the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge sits upon the glacial outwash plain of the Charlestown moraine, providing the refuge with its unique character.
Originally being used as a Naval Auxiliary landing field during world war II, the main portion of the refuge still contains remnants of the numerous runways, taxi-ways, and buildings which supported the war effort. Many people served their country here, with this rich history celebrated in an interpretive "trails through time" route which passes through the refuge.
The wildlife present is as diverse as the vegetation which occupies the land. Over 250 bird species visit seasonally, and 70 species nest on the property, making bird watching and photography popular refuge activities. From saltmarshes, kettle ponds, freshwater wetlands, maritime shrublands and forests dominated by oak or maple, habitat is varied and plentiful.
The barrier beach portion of Ninigret Refuge is occupied by the threatened piping plover, whose populations, at least in Rhode island, are increasing. Osprey ply the air over the refuge in search of the dozens of fish species inhabiting Ninigret Pond. From bluebirds to woodcock, wildlife awaits the vigilant visitor. During the fall migrations, a wide variety of waterfowl and shorebirds visit the shoreline of the refuge along Ninigret Pond.
From use for farming, then a Naval auxiliary landing field, and now to a National Wildlife Refuge, this area is steeped in history. The refuge was established in 1970 with the transfer of 27.5 acres from the navy to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional transfers of 375 acres and other purchases before 1982 provided the bulk of the main portion of the refuge. In 2001 and 2002, another 235 acres have entered the refuge system, bringing the current total to about 900 acres.