New Visitor Center and Headquarters

Long Island NWR Complex

On May 19, 2012, the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex celebrated the grand opening of their new visitor center and headquarters facility. Paid for in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), this 13,000 square foot building highlights the Service’s dedication to energy efficient design and community outreach. With an interactive exhibit hall, environmental education classroom and administrative offices, this facility will provide the staff with a more central location to administer the 10 refuge units on Long Island.

The new visitor center, which also serves as the refuge complex headquarters, was built to meet the gold-level certification criteria of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. It has water-efficient faucets and toilets designed to save about 26,000 gallons a year compared with a conventional building. A geothermal heating and air-conditioning system is estimated to save enough energy to heat three medium-size houses and cool one house for year. Solar photovoltaic panels will reduce electrical use. And the flooring in the multipurpose room is made of recycled rubber from old tires.

With over 850 visitors in attendance, this event was the largest in the Complex’s history. The grand opening celebration was made possible by the help of 61 dedicated volunteers, 17 partner organizations and 14 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff. Highlights from the day included guest speakers Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Peter Scully, Regional Director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Saad Amer, a local high school senior and conservation activist. Other highlights include the opening of the new 3.3 mile Black Tupelo Nature Trail, a new observation platform offering scenic views of the Carmans River and a live birds-of-prey program hosted by the Sweetbriar Nature Center.

"We are taking a big step toward linking urban communities with the outdoors and inspiring passion for our shared natural spaces right here on Long Island," said Michelle Williams, manager of Long Island refuges.

Claire Goad, president of the nonprofit Friends of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, said, "It used to be we could only offer programs in warm weather because we had two green tents. We didn't have a building. Now school groups, senior citizens and scouts can use it."

She added that, in the past, her group was able to sell items only a few times a year to support the refuge. Now, the group has a store in the visitor center so it can increase its revenue.

Claire invites you to come and enjoy the new visitor center here at the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Located at our Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, the new space provides wonderful opportunities for people to learn more about our refuges and the wildlife of Long Island. The center is currently open from 8AM to 4PM Monday through Saturday, with plans to expand those hours during the coming seasons. For a full schedule, visit or call 631-286-0485.


The Friends of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge (FOW) is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the enduring protection, management and appreciation of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and its environs.

Friends of Wertheim Web Site


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