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Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge

The Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, an area comprising 22,668 acres, was established in 1937 for the protection, study, perpetuation and management of certain species of wildlife, particularly waterfowl and other migratory birds, in the area. Moosehorn is the only one of more than 300 national wildlife refuges that is devoted to the study and management of the American woodcock.

Visitors will find a perfect retreat on the refuge's many miles of woods roads and trails where there is a possibility of spotting Canada geese, many species of ducks, deer, bear, moose, beaver and other fur bearers; and even the harbor seal may be found, along the shore waters of the Edmunds Unit. A refuge mammal list includes 39 species.

Bird watchers are invited to take walks on the refuge's two units where 200 species of birds have been recorded. Fishing for brook trout, small mouth bass and pickerel is one of the many privileges offered. A detailed refuge leaflet may be obtained at the refuge or at the Calais tourist bureau

The Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is located in extreme northeastern Maine. It was established in 1937 as the northeastern end of a chain of migratory bird refuges extending from Maine to Florida and consists of two units.

The primary unit of about 16,000 acres is bounded on the north by the St. Croix River which forms the boundary between Canada and the United States. Refuge headquarters are located on this unit, three miles north of the city of Calais. The secondary unit, more than 6,700 acres in size, lies along U.S. Route 1 at Edmunds, about 35 miles south of Calais. It is bounded by the waters of the Cobscook Bay, an arm of the Bay of Fundy and the mouths of the Dennys and Whiting Rivers.

The refuge is a highly glaciated expanse of rolling hills, large ledge outcrops, streams, lakes, bogs and marshes. Moosehorn offers its visitors more than 50 miles of roads and trails which are closed to vehicular traffic but open for hiking. A diverse forest of aspen, maple, birch, spruce and fir dominates the landscape and scattered stands of majestic white pine are common.

The Edmunds unit boasts several miles of rocky shoreline where 24-foot tides are a daily occurrence and harbor seals frolic.

A total of 216 birds has been identified on the refuge. Three big game Species occur on the refuge the whitetail deer, moose and black bear. Other smaller mammals include the snowshoe hare, red fox, red squirrel, porcupine, muskrat, beaver and raccoon. Beaver dams and muskrat houses are observed from many locations along public highways and from refuge access roads and trails.

Petit Manan Refuge

The Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge is a 3,335-acre refuge complex on the eastern Maine coast consisting of 2,166 acres on Petit Manan Point in Steuben, 1,155 acres on Bois Bubert Island in Milbridge, nine acres on Petit Manan Island in Milbridge and five acres on Nash Island in Addison.

The Point is accessible by car off U.S. Route 1 in Steuben on what is known as Pigeon Hill Road. Some six miles from Route 1 you climb a hill after passing through some gorgeous coastal scenery and come to a parking lot near the informational exhibit - a large bulletin board with maps showing the routes of the two unimproved hiking trails that start there.

Petit Manan has a rugged, windblown character with a variety of habitats including spruce and mixed hardwood forests, jack pine stands, cedar swamps, raised heath wetlands, blueberry barrens and fresh and saltwater marshes.

The Petit Manan Refuge is a noted birding area for many species of seabirds, shorebirds, songbirds, waterfowl and the endangered bald eagle, peregrine falcon and roseate tern. More than 250 birds have been identified here.

Bird Watching

Bird watchers or "birders" as they are known, flock to Washington County to pursue their energetic hobby. We are not going into all the types of birds to be found in the county, but we will refer you to several sources of information on the subject:

  • The Refuge Manager, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, P. O. Box 1077, Calais ME 04619, phone 454-7161.
  • The Refuge Manager, Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge, P. O. Box 279, Milbridge ME 04658, phone 546-2124.
  • The University of Maine at Machias Institute for Field Ornithology, 9 O'Brien Avenue, Machias ME 04654, phone 255-3313.

This institute conducts workshops for birders and ornithologists during the spring, summer and fall from Machias all the way to the State of Washington. It is co-publisher with the Maine Audubon Society of the quarterly "Maine Bird Notes", which serves as a newsletter of sightings and a vehicle for communicating researchers' requests for information to the bird watching community in Maine.

The two Refuges mentioned above have detailed brochures which list the various sightings of birds. A real favorite for birders is Machias Seal Island, the land of the Puffin and several other species including Razorbill Auks, Arctic Terns and Common Murres. The season for birding on the island starts around Memorial Day and ends the first of September, although July and August are the best months.

Research and Hatcheries

For those of you who want to sharpen your skills in marine biology, there are two hatcheries and a research station you might want to visit.

To learn more about aquaculture, visit the Beals Island Regional Shellfish Hatchery on Beals Island. Here millions of juvenile soft shell clams are being raised annually to increase the clam flat production Down East. The hatchery was opened in 1987 and visitors may tour the shellfish hatchery from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day from June through September. The phone number is 497-5769.

Further east, in the beautiful fishing town of Cutler is a Marine Lobster Hatchery to which visitors are invited every day from June through September. Morning visits are recommended and it might be a good idea to call 259-3693 to confirm times. Here you will see the feeding and raising of algae which is food for the brine shrimp which is eaten by the larval lobsters. Once the lobsters reach 1.25 inches in length, they are released into the coastal waters around Cutler. Seven years later they're ready for your table, weighing in at a pound to a pound-and-a-quarter.

The West Quoddy Biological Research Station, located in Lubec, is a not-for-profit organization designated for biological research studies on the region's diverse flora and fauna. The facility provides a base for scientists requiring the unique marine and terrestrial habitats which are readily accessible from the station. It is also designated as a rescue and rehabilitation center for marine mammals and wildlife, and provides a summer environmental education program for elementary and secondary-level school children.

The Visitors' Center, located on the station's grounds, is open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from June through October. It is an educational endeavor to inform the public about the station's activities and the extraordinary environment surrounding it. Weekly guided nature walks are offered and are sponsored by the station. Washington County Maine - Washington County - A Look At Downeast Maine

A Little Washington County History - At Machias the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War was fought - a land and sea action which resulted in the British schooner "Margaretta" being captured by the American residents with the loss of only one man on the American side. The captain of the British craft died that night in the Burnham Tavern, a well-preserved example of a colonial inn now open to visitors. The oldest building east of Bangor, it's maintained by the local D.A.R.

Everyone Loves Blueberries - Washington County, responsible for more than 90 percent of the nation's blueberry crop, is the world's largest producer. The glacially formed "barrens", vast rolling plains of sandy soil, are perfect for raising wild, lowbush blueberries. Thus, the growing, harvesting and processing of the blueberry is a major industry in Washington County. Nearly a quarter million acres of barrens yield an average of 30 million pounds of blueberries annually, all of which are canned within the county.

Sport Hunting in Washington County - The face of this land is a succession of valleys with ridges between, stretching from the Narraguagus to the St. Croix and beyond. The rivers that drain the valleys are born of spring-fed lakes and ponds that lie embossed in the highlands to the north, hidden away in the forests of pine and spruce, of balsam fir and hemlock. These are the haunts of the whitetail deer, the black bear and the moose, and this is the land where they are sought by the hundreds of hunters who venture forth come fall.

Native American Indian History - Although the earliest European settlers found Indians of the great Algonquin stock throughout Maine, evidence unearthed and correlated in the last fifty years has firmly established the belief that these Algonquin tribes had been preceded by an earlier, different group of men who are called Pre-Algonquin or Red Paint People. Red Paint People have been so named because each of their ancient graves contains from less than two quarts to a bushel of brilliant ocher, usually red but occasionally yellow or brown. The burial with the bodies of ocher (a mineral from which paint may be made) and stone implements, which are unlike Indian implements, distinguishes these people.

Natural Wonders - TIDES: The greatest rise and fall of tides on the shores of the continental United States occur along the Washington County coast. The tall pilings at Jonesport, Lubec and Eastport attest to the gigantic fluctuations of the ocean's level where 18-foot variations are average. Actually, the greatest tides occur way up the St. Croix River at Calais where the average is 20 feet. At certain times of the year, however, the water level will vary 28 feet every six hours or close to one inch every minute!

Beaches And Tidal Pools - No visit to Washington County would be complete without the thrill of discovering the beauty of the beaches and rocky cliffs that form the boundary between the pounding sea and the land. This narrow band between the low and high water mark is a world of its own populated with plant and animal life peculiarly adapted to living part of each day submerged by the ocean water and the rest of the time exposed to the drying sun and wind. The scene is an ever changing one as each tide slowly rearranges the pattern of the rocks, the sand and the residue from the sea.

Campobello Island - Campobello Island, N.B. is nine miles long and about three miles wide. It has two fishing villages, Welshpool and Wilson's Beach, both of them home port to many colorful vessels which go out many miles to catch fish. After you go through customs and get a friendly nod you'll climb a hill. When you get to the top, stop and turn around so you can take in the view of Lubec, Maine across the "Narrows", where, according to the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, the strongest tidal currents on the east coast flow --around 12 knots or 15 miles an hour.

Ten Exciting Places To Enjoy Yourself Absolutely Free - There are several excellent facilities in Washington County which are open to the public at no charge. All that is asked is that visitors leave the areas clean and unspoiled. Depending on the location of the site, provisions have been made so that people of all ages may enjoy picnicking, tenting, boat launching ramps, fishing, hiking and swimming.

Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge - The Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, an area comprising 28,686 acres, was established in 1937 for the protection, study, perpetuation and management of certain species of wildlife, particularly waterfowl and other migratory birds, in the area. Moosehorn is the only one of more than 540 national wildlife refuges that is devoted to the study and management of the American woodcock.

Five Great Places To Hike - If you're looking for some interesting hiking trails, you've come to the right place. Here are five locations you might want to try some of these.

Washington County Wildflowers - From the time the first Mayflower blooms between the patches of melting snow on the sunny hillsides until late in the fall the great natural lands of Washington County are filled with hundreds of varieties of wild flowers and greens. Plants have structures and abilities which suit them for living in particular environments and therefore each distinct area of seashore, woods, fields and roadsides brings forth its own individual bouquet.

Points Of Interest - When the phrase Down East came into common usage is unknown but some historians feel the description goes into the early 1600's. It is rather a puzzling phrase but as you can see from examining a map, the coast of Maine does go east but, at the same time, it runs northward too, or up. However, what early explorers quickly found out was that the prevailing winds blew from the southwest, as they do today. Therefore, they most frequently sailed with, or down the wind, as they moved to the eastward. Thence, Down East.

The Glaciers Did It - A million or more years ago the world grew very cold. Great sheets of ice formed over the northern lands, retreated, grew again, drew back and for the third time advanced far south of what is now Maine. As recently as 15,000 years ago there were tongues of the huge glaciers extending into Washington County.

The Communities Of Washington County - St. Croix Island, set about midway between the United States and Canada in the beautiful St. Croix River, was the scene of the first white settlement in the New World north of St. Augustine, Fla. It was here, in 1604, that Samuel Champlain and his fellow French explorer, Sieur de Monts, led a band of about 100 soldiers and traders and spent the winter. It was from this island that Champlain explored the coast of New England as far south as Cape Cod.

Boat Launch Sites - Washington County has some pretty good boat launching ramps on lakes and the salt water. Here is a fairly complete list of the fresh water launching sites.

Salt Water Fishing - A salt water sports fisherman, to borrow author Kenneth Roberts' words; "has always with him the clean, salt tang of the sea, the roar of waves on the ledges, the fatalistic scrutiny of clownish seagulls and is never annoyed by mosquitoes, black flies, midges or horseflies." A description which should knock fresh water fishing into a cocked hat, but won't. Nevertheless, salt water fishing in the county can offer every member of the family some wonderful thrills whether you cast from a ledge or wharf or dangle a line from one of the charter boats that ply from Red Beach, Jonesport, Cutler or Eastport. The fish to be caught include flounder, sculpin, cod, pollock, smelt, mackerel, halibut, sea bass or "stripers" and tuna, although tuna are very rare. In fishing for flounders, we notice that the most successful fishermen use worms, either the garden or sand variety; this keeps the bait from being eaten by the sculpins.

State Parks - Washington County offers several nice public parks including the ones listed on this page.

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