The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Tuesday that it has finalized the creation of a new national wildlife refuge that will be located in parts of six states.
Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge will be located on non-contiguous land in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island.
The federal agency said it will work with "willing and interested" landowners in 10 targeted areas to acquire up to 23.4 square miles. The service said the refuge will provide habitat for more than 2,100 types of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. More than 380 of those species are endangered.
Wildlife service northeast region director Wendi Weber said the refuge represents a chance to "leave a legacy of conservation and to contribute to a large-scale effort that will make a difference for American woodcock, New England cottontails, monarch butterflies and other wildlife."
The proposal to create a national wildlife refuge in an area of the country with dense population attracted some scrutiny from the public, including concerns that state and federal authorities already are working to preserve wildlife habitat in the area. The wildlife service responded that increased land protection and management will outweigh any costs associated with the project.
The service has said it wants to acquire half of the land with the use of conservation easements and half via purchases.
The targeted lands consist of shrubland and young forests. The government is focusing on land acquisitions in southern Maine; the southeastern portion of Connecticut; the Housatonic area of Connecticut and New York; parts of Cape Cod, Massachusetts; the northern Merrimack Valley and Dover areas of New Hampshire; and southern Rhode Island.
There are 565 other national wildlife refuges around the country, including at least one in every state.