Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

January 20, 2010

$4.9 Million in Recovery Act Funds for New Jobs and Gateway Visitor Center and Headquarters

Roanoke Island, N.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded a $4.9 million contract for a new Gateway Visitor Center and Headquarters at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on Roanoke Island, N.C. under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

The ARRA contract to MWH Constructors, Inc., of Broomfield, Colorado, will fund the design and construction of the new 18,000 square foot facility. The site will house the refuge’s 30-plus staff members and educate visitors about wildlife and conservation in the area. This investment will also create jobs for the local community.

"This new visitor center and headquarters will be a wonderful educational tool when it is completed,” said Secretary Salazar. “It will help spread the word about wildlife and their habitat needs along the North Carolina coast. The project will create construction jobs in the community. It will also help us connect people to nature and tell important stories about issues related to accelerating climate change.”

“We’ve waited a long time for this facility,” said Mike Bryant, project leader. “Besides providing the much-needed office space for our staff, this visitor center will become a gateway to national wildlife refuges by allowing us to introduce hundreds of thousands of Outer Banks visitors to nearby refuges. Hopefully we can show them enough to entice them to plan adventures to the national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia,” Bryant added.

“This facility will be a showcase,” said Stanley Oliver, president for the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society. “It will teach so many people about wildlife and refuges. We couldn’t be happier.”

Established on March 14, 1984, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge comprises 154,000 acres lying on the mainland portions of Dare and Hyde Counties in North Carolina. It attracts about 45,000 visitors annually. One of the last remaining strongholds for black bear on the Eastern Seaboard, the refuge is also home to ducks, geese, swans, wading birds, shorebirds, American woodcock, raptors, American alligators, white-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits, quail, river otters, red wolves, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and a variety of song birds.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 gave $3 billion to the Department of the Interior. The ARRA funds represent an important component of the President’s plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century. Under the ARRA, Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless treasures – our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage – while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.

“With its investments of Recovery Act funds, the Department of the Interior and its bureaus are putting people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come,” Secretary Salazar said.

Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery.

Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior’s Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is creating approximately 3,000 jobs through the life of Recovery Act funding.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect to enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For questions, comments or concerns email us at recoveryact@fws.gov. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov and http://www.fws.gov/alligatorriver/.