About the Complex


The Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Complex includes nine national wildlife refuges, ranging from Pea Island and Currituck on the barrier islands to Roanoke River almost two hours to the west.  Also included are Mackay Island, Alligator RiverPocosin Lakes, Mattamuskeet, Swanquarter, and Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuges.

Alligator River Refuge is managed as part of the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuge Complex. A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location.  Refuges are grouped into a complex structure because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs.  

Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, biological, fire, visitor services, and maintenance professionals, are centrally located and support all refuges within the complex.  

In the case of the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Complex, there are 9 national wildlife refuges.  The Project Leader for the Complex supervises the Refuge Managers who are responsible for managing these refuges.  However, there are five distinct and separate administrative offices.  Alligator River and Pea Island are administered from the Alligator River Refuge Headquarters in Manteo, NC.  A second administrative office is at the Mackay Island Headquarters in Knotts Island, NC and manages both Mackay Island and Currituck. An office at Mattamuskeet administers Mattamuskeet, Swanquarter, and Cedar Isand.   Pocosin Lakes and Roanoke River each have separate administrative offices.  

The administrative office for the Complex is located at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters at 100 Conservation Way, Manteo, NC 27954.  This is also the location of the Coastal NC National Wildlife Refuges Gateway Visitor Center, which serves as an introduction to all refuges in the complex.