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Shepaug Hydroelectric Station

The environment in the vicinity of the Shepaug Hydroelectric Station, the largest hydroelectric station in Connecticut, provides a unique habitat for wildlife and is an important winter (December through March) feeding site for bald eagles.

Featured activities include:
Nature / Wildlife Viewing
Hiking
Educational Programs
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Bald Eagles in Connecticut

The Shepaug Dam, on the Housatonic River in Southbury, holds a special appeal to the wintering birds because the hydroelectric station’s operation prevents water from freezing, making it easy to feed on fish below the dam. Since it opened in 1985, the Shepaug Eagle Observation Area has hosted nearly 140,000 visitors to observe the eagles and view exhibits. The program is managed by volunteers from the Connecticut Audubon.

Visitors gather in a blind with spotting scopes set up to provide excellent viewing. Volunteers can assist viewers, provide information and answer questions. Individuals and school groups are welcome.

Possibly the largest concentration of wintering eagles in Connecticut can be seen perching, fishing or flying at this site on the Housatonic River. In past years visitors have witnessed as many as 10 or more eagles in a single day, not to mention a variety of other birds including red-tail hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, goshawks, great blue herons, and various waterfowl.

The bald eagle is making a comeback thanks to intensive conservation efforts. Pesticide poisoning and direct human interference had decimated bald eagle populations, but the banning of DDT and stronger legal protections, combined with reintroduction and management efforts, have allowed eagle populations to rebound.

In the recent past, eagles were rarely seen during the summer months in Connecticut because nesting did not occur in the state. In 1992 a pair of eagles made Connecticut their home for what was believed to be the first time in 41 years. They began a new generation of eagles, and within a decade there were eight nesting pairs.

During the viewing season, admission is free but reservations are required. This year reservations may be made on line by clicking the Book Now icon below. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-368-8954, Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., from early December through early March.

In the case of current or anticipated inclement weather, visitors are urged to call 1-860-895-6468 to verify whether or not the viewing area is open before arriving on the reserved viewing day. If the eagle viewing facility is closed due to inclement weather, reservations are cancelled and must be rebooked either online or by calling the reservation line at 1-800-368-8954.

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Shepaug Station Recreation

The area is open for summer picnicking and fishing from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The 1/2 mile Shepaug Interpretive Trail on the shore of Lake Lillinonah describes the diverse roles trees play from shade, to wood products, to food for both people and wildlife.

Directions

From Westbound I-84, take Exit 14 (Route 172). Turn right off exit ramp and left at stoplight. Proceed straight for 1 mile, turn left over high and immediately right onto Fish Rock Road for .6 mile. From Eastbound I-84, take Exit 13 (River Road). Turn right off exit ramp. Both routes now merge, and you should keep right on River Road and continue for 3.2 miles to the Shepaug Recreation Area. The river will be on your left.

Activity Locations

See our map below for more location details