National Wildlife Refuge
|85 Mattamuskeet Road
Swan Quarter, NC 27885
Phone Number: 252-926-4021
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|Lake Mattamuskeet, the largest natural lake in North Carolina, winters thousands of tundra swans, Canada and snow geese, and many species of ducks. The lake is also noted for|
Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
Located in eastern North Carolina in Hyde County, the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge consists of more than 50,000 acres of water, marsh, timber and crop lands. The refuge's most significant feature is Lake Mattamuskeet, the largest natural lake in North Carolina. The lake is 16 miles long, five to six miles wide, encompassing approximately 40,000 acres, but averages two feet in depth. Mattamuskeet NWR lies in the middle of the Atlantic Flyway and provides valuable migration and wintering habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Waterfowl numbers exceed 100,000 each winter and include snow geese (5,000-8,000), Canada geese (5,000-10,000), tundra swans (25,000-35,000) and 22 species of ducks (90,000-150,000). While noted for its waterfowl, Mattamuskeet NWR also provides habitats for a significant fishery resource, 70-90 pairs of nesting osprey, wintering bald eagles and peregrine falcons, deer, bobcats, otters, gray foxes, an occasional black bear or red wolf, 240 species of birds and numerous other species endemic to the area.
Getting There . . .
The refuge is on the Albarmarle - Pamlico peninsula in eastern North Carolina, approximately 8 miles east of Swan Quarter. From the East or West, take Hwy 264 to the intersection of Hwy 94N. The entrance to the Refuge is 1.7 mi. North on 94. Turn right off of 94 onto a gravel road. Travel 2.3 miles to the Refuge Headquarters. From the North, enter Hyde County via Hwy 45S & then East on Hwy 264 (& continue as above), or enter on Hwy 94S at Columbia, through Fairfield, turning left at the Refuge entrance (& continue as above).
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When the refuge was established, the numbers of puddle ducks and geese drawn to Mattamuskeet appeared endless and peaked in 1960 when more than 100,000 Canada geese and 200,000 ducks wintered here. A drastic decline in their numbers began soon after and continued until the mid 1980's. Simultaneously, tundra swan, snow goose and diving duck numbers grew.
In the mid 1960's, the refuge began a long-term habitat enhancement project to improve wintering waterfowl habitats. More than 2,500 acres of marsh and shrub wetlands were impounded and restored to increase the production of waterfowl foods. Currently, water management and vegetation control in the impoundments produce impressive stands of natural waterfowl foods such as wild millet, panic grasses, and spike rushes. In addition, dense beds of underwater vegetation eaten by swans, diving ducks, and some puddle ducks grow in Lake Mattamuskeet. Corn, soybeans, and winter wheat are farmed by cooperative farmers with a portion left for Canada geese, snow geese, ducks, and swans to use.
Refuge forests consist of approximately 1,000 acres of loblolly pine, including the 153 acre Salyer's Ridge Natural Area, and 2,000 acres of mixed hardwoods and bald cypress. These woodlands occur in narrow strips along the refuge boundary between the marsh and higher private lands. Forest management techniques such as prescribed burning and selective thinning are used to enhance wildlife habitats.