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Editor's Note: This corrects an earlier version.
Lyme – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has acquired 50 acres in Whalebone Cove from The Nature Conservancy that will be added to 66 acres there already owned by the service as part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
The service purchased the 50-acre parcel along the Connecticut River, owned by the conservancy since 1999, for $1.23 million, using Land and Water Conservation Fund monies that are available to federal, state and local governments for conservation land purchases, Tylar Greene, spokeswoman for the service, said today.
Greene said the newly acquired property will become part of the Whalebone Cove Division of the Conte refuge, which extends through the Connecticut River watershed into four states. The entire refuge consists of 36,000 acres. It was established to conserve native plants, animals and their habitats in the watershed, and is the only refuge in the country dedicated to a river’s entire watershed. Other nearby properties included in the refuge include parcels along the Salmon River, a tributary of the Connecticut River.
The new acquisition by the service comes a year after it purchased 26 acres from a private landowner. Around the same time, the conservancy donated 40 acres in the cove to the service, making up the initial 66 acres in Conte's Whalebone Cove Division. The conservancy still owns a 4-acre parcel there, said Sarah Pellegrino, land protection and strategies specialist for the conservancy, and future plans for that parcel are "under consideration," she said.
Pellegrino said the conservancy and the Fish & Wildlife Service “share the same goals,” and that putting the Whalebone Cove parcels under its care will bring additional resources and uniform management to the area. The cove is the first tidal marsh preserve to be included in the Conte refuge, she added.
The Whalebone Cove preserve includes a freshwater tidal marsh as well as mature forest, floodplain forest and upland meadows. It is a significant feeding ground for migratory waterfowl, and a wintering area for bald eagles and black ducks.