What We Do

Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.   

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge has 14 moist soil management units where water levels are carefully manipulated throughout the year in order to provide high quality habitat for migratory birds. 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. From March to August, biologists place protective closures around nests, control predation, and intensively monitor these birds. In addition, seasonal closures protect sensitive habitats of the refuge’s 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. 

Management and Conservation

Refuges deploy a host of scientifically sound management tools to address biological challenges. These tools span active water management to wilderness character monitoring, all aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach to benefit both wildlife and people.  At this field station our conservation tool box includes: 

  • Planning – Comprehensive Conservation Plan
  • Habitat restoration
  • Climate Resilience
  • Compatibility Determinations 
  • Cultural Resources 
  • Education & Outreach  
  • Fire Management 
  • Grazing 
  • Human Dimensions 
  • Invasive Species 
  • Inventory and Monitoring 
  • Law Enforcement 
  • Recreation Management 
  • Species Research  
  • Water Management 
  • Wildlife Health 


Comprehensive Conservation Planning
The purpose of a comprehensive conservation plan (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. Since staff at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge administers Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Comprehensive Conservation Plan is a combined document covering the two sites. Please email us to request a copy of this document.

Our Services

At this field station we offer the following public services:

  • Buy Duck Stamps & America the Beautiful Passes 
  • Recreation
  • Special Use Permits


Special use permits are required for certain activities on our refuge. These activities will fall under one of three categories, each with a separate application form - general special use, research, or commercial activities. Scroll down to locate the appropriate form for your request. The fillable application must be submitted in the timeframe indicated to receive consideration. Submitting and application does not guarantee approval. Your permit is not valid until approved and signed by a refuge official.

Send all requests to: 

Laurel Wilkerson
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
8231 Beach Road
Chincoteague, VA 23336
757-336-6122 x2310

General Special Use Activities

This form is used to request environmental education fee waivers, wedding permits, and requests for any other activity not listed on this page. We must receive your general special use activity request at least 2 weeks’ prior to your planned activity.

Environmental Education Fee Waiver Requests

Environmental education fee waivers will be approved for educational groups visiting strictly for educational purposes. Groups who also intend to participate in recreational activities such as visiting the beach must pay the entrance fee. Examples of educational groups include: schools, scout groups, nonprofit organizations.

Wedding Permit Requests

Couples wishing to have a wedding ceremony on the refuge must submit a request and, if approved, follow any specific stipulations needed to avoid disturbance to wildlife or other priority public uses.

  • Weddings are only allowed on the recreational beach.
  • Your ceremony cannot interfere with other public use activities. So, we recommend parking lot 1 or the last parking lot before the Over Sand Vehicle Zone.
  • Props like music, archway, and aisle runners are allowed.
  • Only shade canopies, not larger than 10 feet by 10 feet are allowed.
  • Artificial/silk flowers only for decoration.
  • Real flowers are allowed in bouquets.
  • Ceremonial props are allowed to be in place 1 hour before the ceremony and must be removed within 1 hour after the ceremony.
  • Accommodations and seating for people with special needs (elderly, physically disabled) may be granted.
  • Any additional ceremony props will have to be approved before the wedding. We do not provide any props or assistance in setting up for weddings.
  • No receptions are allowed after wedding.
  • The wedding permit is free of charge but the refuge entrance fees for you and your guest still apply.
  • The best time to have your wedding is May – September. Our highest visitation occurs around the July 4th holiday and is not a recommended choice. Since the summer months are also our busiest tourist season, we strongly recommend a sunrise or sunset wedding.
  • Please note that request can only be made up to 3 months in advance.

Research & Monitoring Permits

We encourage research and studies that assist in answering management questions to enhance wildlife and their habitats on our refuge when authorized via a Special Use Permit. Priority will be given to studies applicable to management on or nearby the refuge. Proposals must demonstrate that the study will not have an adverse effect on wildlife or habitat.

Commercial Activities

A special use permit is required for all commercial operations on national wildlife refuges, including any activities for which participants pay a fee for any services rendered or goods delivered on refuge lands. Depending upon your activity, there may be multiple layers of approval required for a commercial use permit. Make sure you follow the guidance below to ensure that your Commercial Activity Request can be processed prior to your arrival. 


If you are hoping to conduct a workshop on our refuge, your request must be received at least 2 weeks prior to your arrival date.

Law Enforcement

Need to report something?

  • For all emergencies please call 911
  • For wildlife crimes or suspicious activity during business hours (8:00am to 4:30pm) please contact 757-336-6122
  • For non-emergencies after hours please call 757-336-3155
  • Our staff does not rehabilitate wildlife, however you can contact a local rehabilitation facility.