The purpose of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is to protect and conserve migratory birds and other wildlife resources through the protection of wetlands, in accordance with Executive Order 7864 of August 8, 1938.

Part of that conservation is protecting the refuge resources with law enforcement efforts and adequate preparation for wildfires by maintaining firebreaks, fire-fighting equipment, and a well-trained staff of firefighters. The active conservation revolves around prescribed burning in marshes to mimic natural fire cycles, but conducting the burns under controlled conditions. The fires not only maintain habitat in optimum condition for all species of wildlife, but protect local highways from fire and smoke. The staff manages moist soil vegetation management units by managing water levels, monitoring the vegetation, and disturbing the vegetation in an appropriate manner to ensure that it meets the needs of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. The staff and volunteers monitor beaches for sea turtle nesting and watches nests to ensure that hatchlings get to the ocean without predation. The staff also monitors the nesting of colonial nesting birds and marks their nesting sites with flagging to warn the public to avoid those areas.

  • Comprehensive Conservation Plan

    Refuge conservation plans are called “comprehensive conservation plans” (CCPs). The purpose of a CCP is to specify a management direction for the Refuge for the next 15 years. The goals, objectives, and strategies for improving Refuge conditions—including the types of habitat we will provide, partnership opportunities, and management actions needed to achieve desired conditions – are described in the CCP. The Service’s preferred alternative for managing the Refuge and its effects on the human environment, are described in the CCP, as well.

    Download the Pea Island CCP   (202 pages)

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  • National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 established, for the first time, a clear mission of wildlife conservation for the national wildlife refuges. The Act states that the Service will manage each refuge to:

    • fulfill the mission of the Refuge System;

    • fulfill the individual purposes of each refuge;

    • consider the needs of fish and wildlife first;

    • fulfill the requirement of developing a comprehensive conservation plan for each unit of the Refuge System, and fully involve the public in the preparation of these plans;

    • maintain the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of the Refuge System; and

    • recognize that wildlife-dependent recreational activities including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education and interpretation, are legitimate and priority public uses.

    Following passage of the Act in 1997, the Service immediately began efforts to carry out the direction of the new legislation, including the preparation of comprehensive conservation plans for all refuges. Consistent with the Act, the Service has prepared all refuge comprehensive conservation plans in conjunction with public involvement.

    The NWRS Improvement Act defines a unifying mission for all refuges, including a process for determining compatible uses on refuges, and requiring that each refuge be managed according to a CCP. The NWRS Improvement  Act expressly states that wildlife conservation is the priority of System lands and that the Secretary shall ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of refuge lands are maintained. Each refuge must be managed to fulfill the specific purposes for which the refuge was established and the System mission. The first priority of each refuge is to conserve, manage, and if needed, restore fish and wildlife populations and habitats according to its purpose.

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