Established in 1990, the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) consists of a nine mile stretch of wetlands, streams and drainage basin lands of the Wallkill River in Sussex County. The site is a mosaic of riparian habitat, ponds, emergent marshes and fens, scrub-shrub and forested wetlands. Much of the adjacent upland forests are contained within Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Stokes State Forest and High Point State Park. The Wallkill River NWR was identified as a focal area under the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, a plan developed to guide conservation of breeding, migrating and wintering waterfowl habitat. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) designated the Wallkill River NWR as a priority wetland site under the federal Emergency Wetland Resources Act of 1986. This site is also part of the Wallkill River Natural Heritage Priority Macrosite, designated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as one of the state?s most significant natural areas.

Ornithological Summary

Conservation Concern ? State-endangered: Pied-billed Grebe (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-endangered: Red-shouldered Hawk (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-threatened: Barred Owl (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-threatened: Bobolink (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-threatened: American Kestral (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-special Concern: Great Blue Heron (B)

Conservation Concern - Conservation Priority: American Woodcock (B)

Responsibility Species - BCR 28 Scrub-shrub/Barrens: American Woodcock, Black-billed Cuckoo, Whip-poor-will, Brown Thrasher, Golden-winged Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow (B)

Significant Congregations-Exceptional Single Species Concentration: Great Blue Heron, King Rail, Common Moorhen, American Bittern, Least Bittern (B)

Significant Congregations-Exceptional Diversity: Landbirds (B)

Long-term Research/Monitoring

Conservation Issues

The majority of this site is owned and managed by the USFWS. Though originally created to provide habitat protection for migratory waterfowl, the Refuge also protects and manages approximately 1800 acres of grassland and scrub-shrub habitats. Natural grasslands are maintained and restored through haying and mowing, prescribed burning and planting of warm season grasses. Dikes and water control structures will be installed to restore wetlands that were previously drained for agriculture. These structures will allow the restored wetlands to be managed for a variety of wetland dependant wildlife including migratory waterfowl, wading birds and wintering raptors. The Refuge is also conducting an invasive plant inventory that will map invasive plants in order to guide management and monitoring efforts. Several parcels adjacent to the refuge are protected by various conservation organizations, including New Jersey Natural Lands Trust, NJ Division of Parks and Forestry and the National Park Service. Many privately-owned parcels, previously cleared for agriculture, are now being converted to residential and commercial development. The change in land use results in a direct loss and fragmentation of grassland, scrub-shrub and valuable wetland buffers. Expanding development in the Wallkill River Valley also degrades water quality through increased input of point and nonpoint sources of pollution. Protection and restoration of privately-owned upland and wetland habitats of this site should be a priority. Habitats adjacent to the refuge should be prioritized for acquisition. Outreach to adjacent farmers and landowners should promote the various state and federal incentive programs that compensate landowners for riparian and grassland restoration and for management of hay fields for the increased productivity of grassland birds. Grassland and riparian restoration improves habitat for a variety of wildlife species and can improve water quality. Threats to forest health include overabundant deer, exotic pests and various tree diseases.


Owned by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Contact: Kevin S. Holcomb
Title: Wildlife Biologist
Telephone: (973) 702-7266
Address: Wallkill River NWR
1547 County Route 565
Sussex, NJ


Mix of freshwater wetlands, upland forest, open water, grassland and shrub-scrub

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