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

March 1, 2011

Climate Change Adaptation Work to Expand in Northeast North Carolina
Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sign Memorandum of Understanding

DURHAM, NC – A first-of-its-kind project to protect wildlife and habitat from rising sea levels in North Carolina can be expanded in northeastern North Carolina thanks to a memorandum of understanding between The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Since 2009, the Conservancy and the Service have collaborated on a pilot Climate Adaptation Project at Point Peter Road on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.  The MOU will enable the Conservancy to extend the work to eight other national wildlife refuges in North Carolina. “This will solidify the relationship that has existed between the two organizations,” said Brian Boutin, who directs the Conservancy’s climate change work.  “It allows us to work across the entire area.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service manages 400,000 acres in the region.  An ever increasing rate of relative sea-level rise in North Carolina, partly due to global climate change, threatens to inundate these conservation lands. The region’s ecosystems are being tremendously altered by increased shoreline erosion, saltwater intrusion, a rising water table and rapid habitat changes. Climate change could also lead to shifts in species distribution and vegetation, a higher incidence of invasive species and increased threat of wildfire.

At Point Peter Road, the Conservancy has undertaken several adaptation strategies. These include:

Mike Bryant, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Project Leader for North Carolina’s Coastal Plain Refuges Complex, said the recently signed agreement makes the pilot project “real and formal.” “It plugs what is happening at Point Peter Road into the larger geographic framework.”

“This fits in with what we want to do at the other refuges,” said Deborah Pierce, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Project Leader for the Mattamuskeet Complex. “The federal government has made a big investment in the area, and this helps to protect that investment.”

In addition to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, other refuges covered by the memorandum of understanding are:  Cedar Island, Currituck, Mackay Island, Mattamuskeet, Pea Island, Pocosin Lakes, Roanoke River and Swanquarter.

For more information on this project and other climate-related work by the Service, please visit www.fws.gov/southeast/climate. For more information about The Nature Conservancy’s work, please visit www.nature.org/northcarolina.