Resource Management

Piping Plovers - Luis Ramos/USFWS

The most noticeable management technique on the refuge is the careful manipulation of water levels in the moist-soil management units or “pools”. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge has 14 such pools that total over 2,600 acres. Water control structures in these areas allow biologist to lower water levels in the spring to create a mudflat-type environment to attract shorebirds. Biologists also reduce water levels in the pools to concentrate fish for wading birds to feed upon, provide ideal feeding conditions for shorebirds, grow plants as food source for waterfowl, and reduce the number for plants that are low in nutrition for wildlife.

In the fall, water control structures are closed to catch rainwater. The higher water levels provide habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. This careful manipulation of water levels is vital in attracting a wide variety of birds and other wildlife to the refuge..

Refuge staff are also heavily involved with managing and protecting the threatened piping plover, a beach nesting shorebird that uses all of the refuge’s barrier islands. Biologist place protective closures around nest, control predation, and intensively monitor these birds from March through August.

Protecting sensitive habitats by closing areas, also helps to protect threatened and endangered species. Setting aside certain habitat areas to reduce disturbance by people helps preserve the natural heritage that many American have come to love and treasure.

Learn More About Resource Management in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan


Finding of No Significant Impact for Beach Relocation Project

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration, prepared the Recreational Beach Relocation Environmental Assessment that evaluated the site design for the facilities needed to support the relocation of the recreational beach. The parking for the existing recreational beach is located adjacent to the recreational beach. The natural westward movement of the shoreline is accelerated by storm events and results in costly repairs to the parking area and public use closures of the existing recreational beach.

The analyses, potential impacts, and conclusions detailed in the Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement remain applicable and valid. Therefore, USFWS has determined that a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is not required, and is issuing this finding of no new significant impact (FONNSI). Furthermore, we find that implementing the proposed action, as described in the environmental assessment, will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment, in accordance with Section 102(2)( c) of NEPA, and this FONNSI is appropriate and warranted.

2018 Finding of No Significant Impact for Beach Relocation (pdf 857KB)

Swan Cove Restoration Update - Categorical Exclusion

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to conduct a restoration of the Swan Cove Pool within Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The restoration project will improve approximately 360 acres of estuarine-salt marsh habitat by enhancing and/or restoring currently degraded areas that have been negatively impacted by an under sized culvert restricting sediment deposition and tidal flow.

The action is categorically excluded from further National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses, because it has been determined to be a class of action which does not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. 

2018 CatEx Swan Cove Restoration (pdf 1.2MB)


Trapping Occurs on this Refuge.

Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations. Click here for more information.