Nature isn’t the only green feature at Oxbow

DEVENS — Sustainability is a big part of the present and the future in this community managed by MassDevelopment.

On Earth Day, a new visitors’ contact station for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service at the Oxbow Refuge was ready for a sneak peek.

Located on a former shooting range, the new construction at the National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was three years in the making, said volunteer Rona Baldo. Before the planned walk, she pulled invasive plants that crept in as the open ground grew in.

Keeping with the sustainability endeavors, the buildings and grounds incorporate many green features. The toilets, open 24/7, are composting, they use no water.

A green roof, with a membrane and plants supplied by a donor, is planned for the toilet building, said Jared Green, a wildlife specialist with Fish and Wildlife.

The parking lot drains onto a section of pervious concrete over sand. This eliminates the need for catch basins, said Neil Angus, an environmental planner at Devens Enterprise Commission. Keeping in the spirit of sustainability, he rode a motorized bicycle with fat tires to the site.

Angus brings developers to the site to see how it works. “It’s just really cool,” he said.

The Bill Ashe Visitor Facility uses reclaimed wood, Baldo said. The building, which can be used for educational programs and other gatherings, opens officially on May 27.

The center was funded with help from Bemis Associates of Shirley, the Friends of Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge, Sika Sarnafil of Canton and MassDevelopment, Green wrote in an email.

A gently sloping path leads to an amphitheater with a fire pit, another spot for special programs. Headquartered in Sudbury and with responsibility for numerous properties, the Wildlife service is stretched pretty thin, Green said. The Friends of the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge ran some of the programs.

The Oxbow area includes a section of the Nashua River and extends to Still River. The Still River property has a canoe launch area, which is about a two-hour paddle from the planned Devens access, Baldo said.

A path, augmented by stairs, leads to the river bank where a floating dock is planned. Canoes and kayaks can be dragged down a path without stairs.

A path following a power line cuts across the access to the river. It leads to other trails that can be followed into Still River, Baldo said. Dog and bicycles at not allowed.

Trail maps are available online at

The contact station is at 80 Hospital Road, between NE Studios and the bridge over the Nashua River.