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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Largest Wetland Restoration East of the Mississippi Dedicated at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Region 5, December 18, 2013
Weir 2 on Kim Saunders Ditch in the Great Dismal Swamp State Park. This $450,000 structure restored hydrology to 6500 acres in the Dismal Swamp State Park and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina and Virginia.
Weir 2 on Kim Saunders Ditch in the Great Dismal Swamp State Park. This $450,000 structure restored hydrology to 6500 acres in the Dismal Swamp State Park and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina and Virginia. - Photo Credit: n/a
Project principles from Quality Enterprises Inc., Ducks Unlimited, NC State Parks, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cut ribbon, signifying the completion of the 2 weirs that restored hydrology to 9580 acres of wetlands in the Dismal Swamp State Park and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge of North Carolina and Virginia.
Project principles from Quality Enterprises Inc., Ducks Unlimited, NC State Parks, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cut ribbon, signifying the completion of the 2 weirs that restored hydrology to 9580 acres of wetlands in the Dismal Swamp State Park and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge of North Carolina and Virginia. - Photo Credit: n/a
Weir 1 on South Martha Washington Ditch in the Dismal Swamp State Park. This $950,000 structure restored hydrology to over 3000 acres in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Weir 1 on South Martha Washington Ditch in the Dismal Swamp State Park. This $950,000 structure restored hydrology to over 3000 acres in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a
Park Superintendent, Joy Greenwood, and Refuge Manager, Chris Lowie, address the audience during dedication ceremonies within the Dismal Swamp State Park and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Park Superintendent, Joy Greenwood, and Refuge Manager, Chris Lowie, address the audience during dedication ceremonies within the Dismal Swamp State Park and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a
USFWS Virginia Field Office Supervisor, Cindy Schulz, presents award to Robert Atkinson, Director of the Center for Wetland Conservation at Christopher Newport University during dedication ceremonies within the Dismal Swamp State Park and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
USFWS Virginia Field Office Supervisor, Cindy Schulz, presents award to Robert Atkinson, Director of the Center for Wetland Conservation at Christopher Newport University during dedication ceremonies within the Dismal Swamp State Park and Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a

On December 18, 2013, the Virginia Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and North Carolina Dismal Swamp State Park held a formal ceremony celebrating the completion of two large water control structures that restore hydrology to 9,580 acres of Federal and State-owned peat lands that were drained over 60 years ago. The largest known forested wetlands restoration project east of the Mississippi River required seven years of planning and $1.4 million to construct. Funded by a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant under the Service’s Migratory Bird Program, the project restores habitat for over 200 species of migratory birds, helps to control wildfires, and sequesters mercury and atmospheric carbon deposits that are released to the environment from wetland soils drained by more than 150 miles of man-made ditches within the 126,000-acre Great Dismal Swamp.
The ceremony recognized the outstanding contributions to the project made by our many partners. These tasks included: engineering design, permitting and NEPA compliance, a long-term monitoring plan, and approvals from the NC State Construction Office, NC Division of Natural Resources, NC Division of Water Quality, NC Division of Coastal Management, and the Governor of NC. Construction contracting was accomplished through the Service’s Region 5 Contracting and General Services Division. Additional partners included Ducks Unlimited, Christopher Newport University, U.S. Geological Survey, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund, NC Clean Water Trust Fund, NC Forest Service, and Quality Enterprises, Inc., the contractor for construction of the weirs.
Eight months after implementation, this project has already achieved tremendous results. Research conducted by The Center for Wetland Conservation at Christopher Newport University found carbon emissions were reduced up to 79%, an amount equivalent to the carbon emitted annually by 16 million cars. Water tables have increased to their highest levels in 60 years and the project makes possible the maintenance and restoration of the globally rare Atlantic white-cedar and associated pine pocosin habitats preferred by the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and a host of priority migratory birds. It is anticipated that this project will assist in wildfire control, and reduce the risk of future fire events such as those that occurred in the 2008 South One and 2011 Lateral West fires. Those fires burned over 6,500 acres and consumed thousands of years of peat soils. Peat soils are excellent sponges for retaining flood waters and sequestering carbon, mercury, and other environmental contaminants. The large scale of this restoration translates into significant human and wildlife benefits for the mid-Atlantic Region.

 

Read about the project in the Suffolk News - Harold:

http://www.suffolknewsherald.com/2013/12/18/swamps-hoover-dam-dedicated/

Contact Info: Willard Smith, 804-693-6694 x124, willard_smith@fws.gov