Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
Alligator River Management

Management Activities: What We Do for Wildlife

The Role of Management is significant on this refuge. Before man began altering the environment, nature provided processes to recycle nutrients and provide a network of living spaces to meet the needs of a variety of wildlife. Wildfires caused by lightning provided diverse habitats, which provided homes for many species. Man's biggest impact on wetland habitats has been the long term tendency to construct roads for logging purposes. Inherent to the roads are ditches and canals. This road/canal system altered the hydrology of the area. Changing the hydrology of the entire system impacted every part of that system. Peat soils were meant to hold water. Besides the subtle impacts on the species that where dependent on the original water regime, draining these peat soils caused a tremendous fire hazard. Fires that burn in the drained pocosins are very difficult to control. Without raising the water table for the entire area, firefighters are helpless to control these fires, which can burn underground for miles. Conversely, extending the hydro-period from the road/dike system results in a loss of forested wetlands.

Management Activities Hydrological Restoration- One Refuge objective is to restore historical water levels on the Refuge by slowly plugging man-made drainage ditches. Not only will this reduce fire danger, it will re-establish valuable wildlife habitat.

In some cases, culverts are added to the road beds to lower water level and enhance sheet flow.

Moist Soil Management- A 5,100-acre agricultural area was added to the Refuge several years after its establishment. This farmland offered an opportunity for waterfowl management. Currently, the area is divided into moist soil management units and agricultural lands farmed by cooperative farmers. Again, by providing diverse habitats, the Refuge provides for many different wildlife species. Wildlife Censuses, Inventories, and Nesting Programs- A number of census programs are in place to monitor various wildlife populations ranging from American alligators to neotropical migrant birds (songbirds, etc.). Waterfowl Banding- The Refuge bands wood ducks in the spring and summer. Other species are banded as projects arise.

Special Studies- In cooperation with universities, special studies are sometimes conducted on the Refuge. Examples include monitoring and evaluating the black bear population and evaluating the effects of agricultural practices on quail populations. The Refuge encourages outside entities to propose wildlife research projects on Refuge lands. Selected projects must benefit the Refuge, as well as provide needed information on wildlife populations or habitats.

Quadrangle Prescribed Burn

Freshwater Marsh

Typical habitat - Marsh & Trees

Last Updated: <5/2/13