Photo Credit: USFWS
Caption: When you talk to the locals and the long-time visitors to Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, you will hear stories about how the lake was teeming with thick beds of aquatic grasses, clear water, abundance of game fish, blue crabs and the spectacular arrival of hundreds of thousands of wintering, migratory waterfowl. One of the most important habitat components to this amazing diversity of wildlife was the aquatic grasses. The aquatic grasses, also referred to as submerged aquatic vegetation, provided approximately 40,000 acres of forage habitat for the waterfowl and important habitat for anadromous fish (can live in both fresh & saltwater) and game fish. These aquatic grass species included wild celery (Vallisneria americana), sago pondweed (Stuckenia pectinata), southern naiad, (Najas guadalupensis), redhead grass (Potamogeton perfoliatus), and two algae (Chara spp. and Nitella spp). Today, because of excessive nutrients and an over-abundance of invasive common carp, the lake has suffered a near total loss of all the aquatic grasses. With the recent approval of the Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan, two priorities were identified to restore the aquatic grasses in the lake. The first is to reduce excessive nutrients inputs into the lake and the second is to remove invasive common carp. Together, we can restore the glory of Lake Mattamuskeet!
Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is one of nine national wildlife refuges in the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Complex. Mattamuskeet Visitor Center, located on the refuge's main entrance road in Hyde County, NC, is open 8 am to 4 pm whenever volunteer staffing is available. For more information, visit the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge web page.