- Why does the refuge burn the marsh?
Natural fires have historically occurred over the marshes surrounding
Mackay Island. Since the island has been settled, many of the natural
fires have been controlled. Fire can provide many benefits to the
natural ecosystem of the area. Prescribed fire is a useful management
tool that is extensively used on Mackay National Wildlife Refuge
for vegetation management. Prescribed burns help to improve goose
browse, reduce woody vegetation intrusion and reduce wildfire hazards.
Goose browse is improved by removing old, rank vegetation and enabling
the fresh green growth to be accessed by the birds. Fire helps
to recycle nutrients that add to the productivity of the marsh.
Fire also helps set back the successional stage and prevents the
growth of woody vegetation. In addition, these fires are used to
help reduce the buildup of wildfire fuels. Due to the proximity
of the refuge to the community of Knotts Island, wildfires threaten
not only refuge facilities but also private homes and businesses
on the Island.
- What recreational opportunities are available on Mackay Island
National Wildlife Refuge?
Mackay Island is open from sunrise to sunset. All portions of the refuge
are open to wildlife-dependent recreation from March 15 through October
15. Year-round public use is permitted in the following portions of
the refuge: Corey's Ditch and the canal on the north side of the Marsh
Causeway are open to fishing and crabbing. Mackay Island Road, from
it's junction with SR 615 to the Dike Gate, and the Great Marsh Trail
are open to walking, biking, motor vehicles (prohibited on the Great
Marsh Trail), Bank fishing, wildlife observation, and wildlife photography.
Sport fishing for largemouth bass, catfish, bream and other species
is allowed in all canals, bays, and ponds from March 15 through October
15 each year. The refuge impoundments (East Pool, Middle Pool, and West
Pool) are open to bank fishing only. All refuge waters, ponds, canals
and bays are closed to boating from October 16 through March 14 each
year. Public deer hunts (by permit only) are conducted during the fall
months (September through December). Special "Open Roads Day" events
are held throughout the year where visitors may drive the dike and
trail system around the refuge impoundments to view wildlife. These
are publicized in advance through local media.
Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge is closed to waterfowl hunting.
The refuge was established as a wintering area, primarily for greater snow
geese, waterfowl and other migratory birds. Access to most of the refuge
is closed from October 16 through March 14 to reduce the disturbance to
the wintering waterfowl. Currituck Sound, which surrounds the refuge, is
heavily hunted. By eliminating waterfowl hunting on the refuge, a sanctuary
area is provided for the birds.
May I hunt waterfowl on Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge?