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

Director

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 the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bates College, and he maintains a Certified Forester license through the Connecticut Division of Forestry.

Samantha Lewis

Forest Crew Leader

Samantha joined the McLean Game Refuge as a summer Forest Ranger in June of 2018. She now oversees the work of all Forest Rangers as our Crew Leader. In the course of her work, Samantha assists the director with trail maintenance, visitor management and conservation activities related to plants and wildlife.

Samantha graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2019. She has since returned to UConn to complete a master’s degree in Natural Resources and the Environment. Her research focuses on the population dynamics of the Eastern Coyote within the greater Game Refuge ecosystem.

Logan Unger

Forest Ranger

Logan joined the McLean Game Refuge in the fall of 2017. A Granby native and avid hiker, he’s spent much of his life exploring the trails of the Game Refuge. Following a high school job shadow day hosted by Director Connor Hogan, Logan decided to pursue an internship at the Game Refuge.

In his duties, Logan monitors over 20 miles of trails and forest roads, maintains Game Refuge boundaries, manages visitor activities and aids in the collection of field data to support scientific research.

Prior to working at the Game Refuge, Logan worked at a family owned landscape construction business as well as at Wilderness Experience Unlimited adventure camp in Southwick, Massachusetts where he led and taught children the value of playing outdoors and learning about the New England forests.

Merlin Ennis

Forest Ranger

Merlin began working at the McLean Game Refuge in the summer of 2019 as a summer Forest Ranger. In the course of his work, Merlin builds and maintain trails, maps and measures champion trees, and plans silviculture treatments for wildlife habitat. Additionally, he cores trees to collect data about the age of the forests throughout the Game Refuge.

Before coming to the Game Refuge, Merlin had worked for a local organic landscaping company mulching, pruning, planting native plants, and using organic lawn care techniques.

He is currently studying Environmental Science at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and will graduate in 2021.

Mike Pazareskis

Forest Ranger

Mike joined the McLean Game Refuge as a summer Forest Ranger in June of 2020. Mike assists in trail maintenance, bog bridge construction, invasive plant removal, bird box construction, and more.

Prior to joining the Game Refuge, Mike worked as a trail crew intern with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association in the summer of 2019. He studies Biology at Central Connecticut State University and will graduate in May 2021.

Chloe Edwards

Academic Intern

Chloe joined the McLean Game Refuge as a Forest Ranger in the summer of 2020 and is continuing her time with the Game Refuge as an current Academic Intern. She is passionate about wildlife and habitat management and is directing her research towards environment and habitat assessments.

Prior to joining the Game Refuge, Chloe first worked as a veterinary assistant. She then spent the summer of 2019 camping at a remote field site to monitor shorebirds, where she discovered her passion for wildlife management.

She will graduate from the University of Connecticut with a double major in Natural Resources and the Environment and Animal Science in the spring of 2021.

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:
Vickie Dirienzo, CFRE
Director of Development
860-658-3702
vickie.dirienzo@mcleancare.org

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