American Avocet photo credit: Michael Halminski
- Are there volunteer opportunities on
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge?
Pea Island uses volunteers in every facet of operations except law enforcement
and fire fighting. Local volunteers work in the Visitor Center, conduct interpretive
programs, assist with biological work, and help with maintenance. Student
interns spend 10-14 weeks during all seasons, gathering work skills and learning
what a refuge might offer them for future employment. More recently, the
refuge has begun a Workamper Program, where adults live in their own RV's
on a site provided by the refuge in return for a minimum of 32 hours per
week of work. We are especially interested in Workampers with education/interpretation
experience or carpentry or mechanical skills.
- Why do some rangers wear green uniforms
and some wear brown?
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) uniform is primarily brown. Pea Island
is a small refuge that lies within Cape Hatteras National Seashore. While
Pea Island is administered by FWS, Cape Hatteras National Seashore falls
under National Park Service (NPS) administration. NPS uniforms are green
and gray. Both USFWS and NPS are Interior Department agencies; however, they
have different primary purposes. Stated simply, parks are for people; refuges
are for wildlife. Both agencies manage wildlife; both offer many public use
opportunities. The difference is in priorities. On refuges, wildlife is
top priority. The refuge was established to provide habitat for wildlife
and to provide compatible wildlife-dependent public use opportunities that
don't conflict with providing that wildlife habitat.
- When and where can we see a sea turtle?
Healthy sea turtles come ashore only to lay eggs and only during the summer
months. Laying usually occurs at night, and the refuge is open to the public
only during daylight hours. Pea Island beaches usually have fewer than 10
nests each year. Therefore, it is unlikely that visitors will see a healthy
sea turtle on refuge beaches. Occasionally, dead or injured sea turtles wash
ashore and can be found on the beach or in the surf.
- Why is the refuge called Pea Island?
At one time, a majority of the greater snow goose population wintered on what
is now Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Historically, these birds foraged
in the dunes and along the sound shore. In the dunes, they found a small
plant whose tiny pink/lavender flowers matured to form beans that were packed
with energy. These "dune peas" provided a predictable food source for the
wintering geese: the refuge was literally the "pea island" for snow geese.
- Why is there constant work on the highway
and adjacent land through Pea Island (sand bags, moving sections,
bulldozing, plantings, etc.)?
The ocean, with associated winds and tides, can be an overwhelming
force with which to contend. Atlantic storms frequently cause dune
blowouts, tidal surges, and blowing sand. These make sections of the
road impassable due to flooding and shifting of the dunes. NC Highway
12 is the only road connecting the seven villages that lie south of
the refuge on Hatteras Island with their survival needs. Residents
of these villages need access for supplies, employment, medical care,
etc. The powerlines, associated with NC 12, provide electricity that
is also critically needed by these villages. The NC Department of Transportation
currently moves sand, drains water, and tries to stabilize dunes in
an attempt to keep NC 12 open. We are part of the Outer Banks Task
Force which explores long term solutions for transportation.
- Will there ever be jetties at Oregon
Inlet on the north end of the refuge?
The construction of jetties is just one proposed way to maintain
a deep channel in this dynamic inlet. The Department of Interior Coastal
Biologists feel that jetties would do more harm than good. Serious
concerns about the impacts of jetties range from rapid erosion of the
refuge to impacts on fish nursery areas in Pamlico Sound. The issues
are complicated and involve a great deal of speculation and data gathering.
In short, solutions to the problems at Oregon Inlet and potential impacts
of jetty construction are still being evaluated.