Resource Management

Left: USFWS employee replanting trees. Right: water control structure.




Found within the establishing legislation of the refuge lies the requirement to manage to protect and restore the Atlantic white cedar stands in the swamp. This species has become globally rare although it formerly was the dominate forest type found here. Management consist of selective monitoring, clearing of competing species, replanting (pictured left), and monitoring of critical water levels.


The swamp’s water budget has been drastically altered by man. There are nearly 200 miles of ditches and ditch roads interrupting the natural flow of ground and surface waters and enabling a more rapid drain of any precipitation. In an effort to balance that disruption, water control structures (pictured right) are placed at strategic locations in the ditches to help slow the loss of water from the system. Management activities include monitoring water levels, and adjusting and maintaining water control structures. Learn more about the Great Dismal Swamp Carbon Project. 

The Service has decided to restore the hydrologic conditions across a 12,000-acre area in Gates, Pasquotank, and Camden Counties, North Carolina by constructing 8 to 12 water control structures and low water crossings at key locations in the drainage infrastructure network on the Great Dismal Swamp NWR in accordance with the refuge’s CCP.  This decision was based upon a review and evaluation of the proposed action and other information contained in the Environmental Assessment (EA) as well as public comments on the EA.

Wildlife Monitoring and Inventory

The biology program participates in several service, state, and international monitoring and inventory programs. These include the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), Mourning Dove Call-Count Survey, Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS), the Bird Point Count, Pollinator counts, NABA Butterfly Count, and the Frog & Toad Calling Survey.


An active fire management program is housed on the refuge. Seasonal activities include the planning and implementation of controlled burns, and wildfire suppression.

Learn more about our fire program.