• Beach Dune Community

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    The beach dune community on the refuge occurs nowhere else in Alabama as an intact, naturally functioning ecosystem.  While strips of frontal dunes and patches of coastal scrub can be found elsewhere in the state, these remnants of an ecosystem lost are disconnected from each other and cease to carry on the interdependent, eloquent relationship that once defined this landscape.
    There is a constant exchange of sand from the land to the Gulf of Mexico. Sand grains travel southward down the coast, with finer particles of sediment being carried and deposited further out to sea. Along the way, sand is washed ashore, either forming dunes as individual grains are trapped by the roots of coastal plant communities or temporarily resting on beaches, until it is re-suspended in the ocean by wave action or wind.

  • Maritime Forest

    Maritime Forest

    Maritime forest anchors the fragile dune system found on the Fort Morgan Peninsula and provides a foundation to this otherwise highly dynamic environment. Fairly easy to identify by its well defined canopy of live oaks and southern magnolia draped in Spanish moss that often shade out many other forest shrub plants. Pine flatwoods and freshwater marshes are so closely associated with oak hammock communities that the three habitat types found on refuge are indistinguishable from each other in many areas. The maritime forest community is a resource of concern due to its high value for neotropical migratory birds. Several trails meander through this magnificent habitat.

  • Wetlands

    Wetland swale on refuge resize

    Wetlands are areas of land with characteristic vegetation that may be saturated with water either seasonally or permanently. Freshwater and brackish marshes are extensive on the refuge. They provide a home for a diverse array of species as well as assist in filtering runoff from adjacent lands and flood control. These habitats are surprisingly diverse on the refuge due to varying influences of salinity, tides, and proximity to major water bodies. Pond cypress and black gum swamps are also found throughout the refuge but most are small, intermittent wetlands. You will encounter wetlands from any of the refuge trails.