About the Refuge

Carson Trail in the summer

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. It will contain approximately 14,600 acres when land acquisition is complete. The proximity of the refuge to the coast and its location between the eastern deciduous forest and the boreal forest creates a composition of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Maine. Major habitat types present on the refuge include forested upland, barrier beach/dune, coastal meadows, tidal salt marsh, and the distinctive rocky coast.

  • Directions & Contact Info

    Directions 2

    The refuge entrance is located on Port Road (Route 9) in Wells and just minutes from exit 19 on I-95. From exit 19, turn left onto Route 9/Route109. At stop light, turn left onto Post Road (Route 1 North). Just past the Maine Diner, turn right onto Port Road (Route 9) and follow for approximately ¾ mile; turn right into the refuge entrance.

    321 Port Road, Wells, Maine 04090

    (207) 646-9226


    Download the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Brochure (pdf - 793KB)

  • History of the Refuge


    The southern Maine coast has been treasured for over 11,000 years. Learn about the history of the land now known as Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

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  • Rachel Carson (1907 - 1964)

    Rachel Carson

    Rachel Carson was a world-renowned marine biologist, author and environmentalist. She served as an aquatic biologist and editor-in-chief for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. During her tenure, she composed a series of articles on Atlantic Coast wildlife refuges. Ms. Carson was born in Pennsylvania in 1907. Though the mystery of the sea and its creatures captivated her at an early age, the Maine coast particularly inspired her. Beginning in 1952, she summered on Southport Island, where she studied its beach and tide pools to research The Edge of the Sea (1955). Through tireless investigation for her greatest work, Silent Spring (1962), she linked the unrestrained use of post-World War II chemical pesticides with fearsome, biological consequences. April 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson's groundbreaking book, Silent Spring. By publishing it, Carson has been credited with launching the contemporary environmental movement and awakening the concern of Americans for the environment.

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