About the Refuge


In the early 20th century, farmers and developers attempted to drain Lake Mattamuskeet, building the world’s largest pumping plant at the time. The lake was drained for certain periods to convert the lake bottom to farmland. Eventually, the effort was abandoned as impractical and too expensive.

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in Hyde County, North Carolina. Established in 1934, the 50,180-acre Refuge consists of open water, marsh, forest and croplands. The centerpiece of the Refuge is the shallow Lake Mattamuskeet. At 40,100 acres, it is North Carolina’s largest natural lake.

The Refuge’s strategic location along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a vitally important stopover for wintering waterfowl. Over the past 35 years, up to 80 percent of the Northern Pintail and up to 30 percent of Green-wing Teal that annually migrate along the Flyway utilize Mattamuskeet. In total, the Refuge attracts more than 200,000 ducks, geese and swans from November through February.

About 58,000 visitors use the Refuge annually to hunt, fish, and observe and photograph wildlife.