About the McLean Game Refuge

The McLean Game Refuge is a wildlife sanctuary located in the towns of Granby, Simsbury, and Canton that is dedicated to the conservation of our local ecosystems and the protection of plant and animal species that live within them. Our landscape spans 4,415 acres and includes cold water streams, trap rock ridges, open meadows, and a uniquely diverse array of forest types comprised of over sixty tree species. Throughout the year, over one hundred bird species may breed or migrate through the McLean Game Refuge, including some that are locally threatened, such as the northern harrier and American kestrel. Dozens of mammals make their homes here as well, including black bears, fishers, deer, and coyotes. Thanks to the abundance of kettle ponds and bogs, marshy wetlands, flood plain forest, ponds, streams, and vernal pools, our forests provide habitat to a wealth of reptile, amphibian, and fish species. 

In 1932, former Governor of Connecticut and U.S. Senator George P. McLean established the McLean Game Refuge on his former private hunting lands with the intent to preserve the natural landscape of his native Simsbury and the surrounding area. His vision was for a “natural park” where plants and animals could thrive without degradation from human activity. Additionally, Senator McLean wrote “I want the [Game Refuge] to be a place where some of the things God made may be seen by those who love them, as I loved them, and who may find in them the peace of mind and body that I have found.” In honoring Senator McLean’s words, the McLean Game Refuge offers over twenty miles of forest roads and hiking trails that are open to the public for passive recreation.

Meet Our McLean Game Refuge Team Members

Connor Hogan


Connor joined the McLean Game Refuge in the summer of 2017 as the fourth director since we opened in 1932. Connor oversees research, conservation, education, and recreation across our 4,400 acres of forests, meadows and waterways. He works closely with the president of McLean and the board of trustees to carry out the management goals set by our founder Senator George McLean when he established the Game Refuge.

Before coming to the Game Refuge, Connor served as the assistant manager of the Yale School Forests overseeing 11,000 acres of working forest across New England. He also has experience in forest restoration, urban forestry and landscape design.

Connor received his Master of Forestry degree from Yale University and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bates College, and he maintains a Certified Forester license through the Connecticut Division of Forestry.

Samantha Lewis

Research Coordinator
Samantha joined the McLean Game Refuge as a Forest Ranger in June of 2018. Over the following three summers, she served as the Forest Crew Leader managing the Game Refuge’s summer college internship program. Now Samantha works here as a wildlife biologist investigating our resident eastern coyotes.

Samantha holds a bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut, and she is currently pursuing a master’s degree though UConn’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. In addition to her work with eastern coyotes, Samantha also has experience with forest management, watershed health and protection, and general wildlife ecology.

Zachary Orluk

Crew Leader

Zach is pursuing a Biology degree at Hamilton College, and has a special interest in Ecology. At Hamilton, he has worked with and studied crows – both wild and those who have grown up in an aviary. Zach grew up in Granby and has been hiking here his whole life. In 2020, he started the Granby Land Trust Youth Conservation Corps, which works to improve trails on Granby Land Trust properties. Zach also spent a Summer removing invasive plants and replacing them with native ones.

Charles Capute

Forest Ranger

Charlie is joining the McLean Game Refuge as a summer forest ranger for the summer of 2023. He is currently working toward a degree in sustainable plant and soil systems from the University of Connecticut. In addition to having experience working in greenhouses he has also done volunteer work as a camp counselor in the Dominican Republic.

Ashton Groneman

Forest Ranger

Ashton is a Granby native and graduated from Suffield High School in the Agriscience Program in 2022. They grew up on a small family farm and previously worked at Bristol’s Farm in Canton. CT. They are currently a rising sophomore at the University of Maine where they are studying wildlife ecology and forest ecosystem science. Ashton is interested in forest and wetland ecology specifically, along with amphibians and reptiles. 


Julia McHugh

Forest Ranger

Julia grew up here in Granby, Connecticut, and she is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Rhode Island. She is double majoring in Environmental Science and Management and Geology, and she hopes to minor in Anthropology. Some of her favorite coursework so far includes paleontology, hands-on labs involving rivers and fluvial action, conservation biology, and archaeology. In the fall, she’ll be returning for her second year at URI and has the chance to study forestry science, Earth’s structures and history, landform evolution, and the beginnings of human language and culture. Outside of school and environmental work, Julia enjoys hiking, being with friends and family, listening to music (lots of Taylor Swift, Fleetwood Mac, and The Beatles,) baking, and is always up for a good adventure!


Donating to the McLean Game Refuge

The McLean Game Refuge is sustained through the vision and foresight of the endowment from Senator McLean, and through the charitable contributions from our community, including annual gifts, bequest gifts and memorial gifts.

With your help and generosity, we can join in Senator McLean’s legacy by supplementing this endowment and further the senator’s mission for generations to come.

You can also mail your gift to:
McLean Development
75 Great Pond Road
Simsbury, CT 06070

Please make your check payable to McLean.

To learn more, please contact:
Alison Swain
Director of Development

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