Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Site Description

  • State: New Hampshire
  • County: Rockingham
  • Ownership: Federal


  • Stubbs Pond: 52 acres

Ecology and Management

The Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge has five freshwater impoundments. However four of the five impoundments don’t function as traditional impoundments. Two are created by dams along a freshwater stream to provide drinking water and two are very tiny ponds that are not managed. Stubbs Pond is the only traditional impoundment in the refuge. It was built in 1963 to provide fishing and boating opportunities to military personnel. However now it is primarily managed to support migratory waterfowl.1 Because Stubbs pond is in a restricted area in the refuge, there is very little eBird data available and no IWMM surveys are conducted at the impoundment (older shorebird surveys indicated little to no shorebird use). However, there are winter bird use data (December to April) from 2010 to 2012. Best available data is listed in the Great Bay NWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). According to reports by NH Fish & Game, waterfowl concentrations are highest in the fall, when over 500 ducks and geese have been observed feeding in the impoundment. Several uncommon and state-threatened species have also been observed breeding in the impoundment, including least bittern, sora, common gallinule, pied-billed grebe, and king rail.

While Stubbs pond may not host as many birds as impoundments further south along the Atlantic Coast, it does provide important habitat to a wide range of species and it is recognized as a high-priority waterfowl location within the state of New Hampshire.2

[1] https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Great_Bay/what_we_do/finalccp.html

[2] Personal communication with refuge staff. 2015.


There are no known records of the impoundment being overtopped during a storm. Erosion has occurred in certain areas around the dam, however it is not known if the erosion was due to a storm event or constant processes. According to the CCP, the dam is in “poor” condition, largely because of the erosion. The “poor” the rating indicates that “a potential dam safety deficiency is clearly recognized for normal loading conditions. Corrective actions to resolve the deficiency are recommended.”

Human Value

Approximately 30,000 people visit the refuge each year.3 There are only two trails on the refuge that are open to the public, and neither provides access to Stubbs Pond. Because Great Bay NWR is a non-staffed refuge, facilitated environmental education programming is not offered at this time.

[3] https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Great_Bay/what_we_do/finalccp.html


We are grateful to Nancy Pau and Bill Peterson (Park River NWR) for providing helpful information used on this page.

Literature Resources

Below is a list of articles describing research occurring at or near the impoundment:
  • Taylor, G. W., S. F. Marino, and S. B. Kahan. Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Karner Blue Butterfly Conservation Easement Comprehensive Conservation Plan. Hadley, Massachusetts: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Regional Office; 2012.