CLOSED TO PUBLIC. Susquehanna National Wildlife Refuge, also known locally as Battery Island, is located at the mouth of the Susquehanna River in Harford County, Maryland.
In the early 1940’s, the island and over 13,000 acres of water were closed to hunting migratory waterfowl by presidential order and designated as the Susquehanna NWR.
The refuge and surrounding areas were once covered with wild celery, pond weeds, redhead grass and other desirable waterfowl food sources. At their peak, waterfowl included over 500,000 canvasback and redhead ducks as well as over 200,000 American wigeon. These rich areas of aquatic growth began declining in the 1960’s due to changes in the water quality and quantity. Development above the Conowingo Dam caused more rapid drainage and greater water flow through the dam. Currents in the upper Chesapeake Bay deposited heavy loads of silt in the Susquehanna flats area. The remaining waterfowl vegetation was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Only a few thousand geese remained around the refuge during winter.
Due to the sharp decrease in waterfowl population and vegetation in the area, the presidential proclamations which originally closed the water areas were lifted on September 1, 1978 and returned to Maryland for supervision. Battery Island in Maryland remains a part of the NWR System.
The island had been severely eroded by winds and waves and until recently was less than one acre in size. However, the planned maintenance dredging of the Susquehanna River near Havre de Grace, MD by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided an opportunity to restore high-quality nesting and brood rearing habitat for black ducks and other waterbirds. The island has been built up using 200,000 cubic yards of clean dredged material which is being used to create approximately 11 acres of upland habitat in a horseshoe shape around and including the existing island.
No public use facilities are located on the refuge, and the island is closed to the public to help protect these habitats and provide a protected place for wildlife.
Susquehanna NWR is managed by the Chesapeake Marshlands NWR, located in Cambridge, Maryland, which also supervises the Eastern Neck NWR, Martin NWR which includes Watts Island Division, and Blackwater NWR, which includes Bishops Head, Barren Island, Garrett Island, and Spring Island Divisions.