The Chincoteague Natural History Association (CNHA) is a non-profit, cooperating association established in partnership with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The CNHA was established as a friends group to promote a better understanding and appreciation of the Chincoteague refuge, the Eastern Shore of Virginia refuge, and the natural history and environment of Virginia's Eastern Shore in general. The CNHA produces and provides interpretive and educational material for refuge visitors. Proceeds from memberships and items sold in the gift shops are used to support and enhance interpretive programs, projects, and activities at the refuges. http://www.piping-plover.org/
Assateague Island is divided between the states of Maryland and Virginia. Assateague Island National Seashore encompasses the entire island and adjacent bay areas from the Ocean City, Maryland inlet to Fishing Point on Toms Cove Hook in Virginia.
On the Virginia side of Assateague Island, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), with the exception of 448 acres in National Park Service (NPS) holdings. The National Park Service assists the FWS in providing public use programs and recreation management in the refuge's Toms Cove area. NPS maintains beach parking, picnic areas, and bathhouse facilities. The NPS also provides lifeguards, law enforcement, and first aid care during the summer beach season.
On the Maryland end of the island, Assateague is owned and managed by three separate agencies: the National Park Service, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For more information on the Assateague Island National Seashore contact them at (757) 336-6577(Virginia side) or (410) 641-1443 (Maryland side).
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Over the past 200-300 years, these modern-day descendants of domestic horses have adapted to the hardships of living near the ocean. Prior to the refuge's establishment in 1943, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company purchased the ponies and continues ownership to this day. The Firemen are allowed to graze up to 150 ponies on refuge land through a Special Use Permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.