The plaque on the bench at Sachuest Point might be overlooked, but the view from the iconic Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is not.
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“WHERE AM I?” ANSWER — DECEMBER 2021
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (DECEMBER 10, 2021) – The U.S. Department of the Interior reports there are 567 federal refuges protecting about 95 million acres across America.
With 19,495 cities, towns and villages in the country, that means the Town of Middletown is among 3 percent of communities around the United States lucky enough to host a federal refuge.
Walk through the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge at the end of Sachuest Point Road and it’s hard to imagine the place as anything else.
Scenic vistas are everywhere, be it Sachuest Bay, the Sakonnet River and beyond. It’s not uncommon to come across deer, seals and all variety of birds enjoying the place too.
The plaque in this month’s “Where Am I?” is located on a bench at “Scenic Overlook 6” on the eastern side of the 242-acre refuge with a sweeping view of the Sakonnet Lighthouse in Little Compton.
But it wasn’t always that way.
According to information from the Fish & Wildlife Service, there are five national wildlife refuges in the Ocean State.
Fish & Wildlife information indicated around 200 million years ago, traces of what’s now Africa were left along the shores of Sachuest Point when the supercontinent Pangaea split. This is particularly true at the Price Neck formation, which was created as part of that tectonic shift.
Records show the Sachuest Point area was used from the mid-1600s to the early 1900s for farming and sheep grazing.
The U.S. Navy transformed the property into a military outpost featuring a rifle range and communications center during World War II. Some of the remnants of this operation are still visible today.
In 1970, the Fish & Wildlife Service said a 70-acre property donation from the Audubon Society of Rhode Island paved the way for the creation of Sachuest Point as a wildlife refuge. Around this time, a number of other options for the property were discussed, including housing and even a nuclear power plant.
Today, the wildlife refuge serves as one of the most iconic spots in all of Rhode Island — and New England. Visitors grace its trails no matter the weather, marveling at the natural beauty, while all forms of wildlife — including rare migratory birds — stop over at Sachuest Point to enjoy the surroundings. It is also home to some of the best shoreline fishing anywhere.