Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge

Site Description

  • State: Rhode Island
  • County: Washington
  • Ownership: Federal


  • Trustom Pond: 207 acres

Ecology and Management

Trustom Pond is a natural-formed coastal salt pond originally created by storm action in the 1700s. Until recently its water levels were actively managed by staff at the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge, a unit of the Rhode Island NWR Complex. According to the Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the refuge (McGarigal and Vandemoer 2002): “…we mechanically breach the pond at least once a year, usually in early April, primarily to provide foraging habitat for piping plovers and other shorebirds.” Water levels are no longer actively managed at the pond, though habitat management still occurs for endangered species and others that depend on a coastal pond ecosystem.


The pond is separated from the ocean by a long dune (~0.8 miles). According to the refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan (McGarigal and Vandemoer 2002): “Natural breaching occurs … during periods of extreme high water.”

Human Value

The pond is surrounded by trails and is a popular site for bird watching, botany, and recreation.


We are grateful to Nick Ernst (USFWS) for providing information used on this page.

Literature Resources

Below is a list of scholarly articles describing research occurring at or near the impoundments:
  • Cohen, J., J. Barclay, A. Major, and J. Fisher. 2000. Wintering greater scaup as biomonitors of metal contamination in Federal Wildlife Refuges in the Long Island region. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 38:83-92.
  • Harlin, M. M. 1995. Changes in major plant groups following nutrient enrichment. Pages 173-187 In McComb, A. J., editor. Eutrophic Shallow Estuaries and Lagoons, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida.
  • Lee, V., and S. Olsen. 1985. Eutrophication and management initiatives for the control of nutrient inputs to Rhode Island coastal lagoons. Estuaries 8:191-202.
  • McGarigal, N., and C. Vandemoer. Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan. Hadley, Massachusetts: United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Regional Office; 2002.
  • Sims, S. A., J. R. Seavey, and C. G. Curtin. 2013. Room to move? Threatened shorebird habitat in the path of sea level rise—dynamic beaches, multiple users, and mixed ownership: a case study from Rhode Island, USA. Journal of Coastal Conservation 17:339-350.
  • Thorne-Miller, B., M. Harlin, G. Thursby, M. Brady-Campbell, and B. Dworetzky. 1983. Variations in the distribution and biomass of submerged macrophytes in five coastal lagoons in Rhode Island, USA. Botanica Marina 26:231-242.
  • Wood, R., and E. Palmatier. 1954. Macroscopic algae of the coastal ponds of Rhode Island. American Journal of Botany 41:135-142.