National Wildlife Refuge System

Scenic view of Chassahowitzka Scenic view of Chassahowitzka Scenic view of Chassahowitzka Scenic view of Chassahowitzka

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

Air Quality Related Values

An Air Quality Related Value (AQRV) is a resource, as identified by the Federal Land Manager, for one or more federal areas, that may be adversely affected by a change in air quality. The resource may include visibility or a specific scenic, cultural, physical, biological, ecological, or recreational resource identified by the Federal Land Manager for a particular area.

 

Aquatic Resources

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) contains extensive areas of saltwater bays, estuaries, and brackish marshes. The waters in these areas are considered to be sensitive air quality related values (AQRVs). Research in the coastal waters of Chassahowitzka has shown that the ecosystem is sensitive to increased inputs of nitrogen, including atmospheric deposition of nitrogen (primarily from power plants, industry, and automobiles). Excess nitrogen contributes to eutrophication which is characterized by algae blooms, loss of submerged aquatic vegetation, and the deterioration of fish and wildlife habitat.

 

Fauna/Wildlife

Chassahowitzka Wilderness provides habitat for migratory waterfowl and other birds. Additionally, it provides habitat for endangered species such as manatees, sea turtles, and most recently, whooping cranes. Chassahowitzka is home to the bald eagle which is afforded special protection under the Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act. The birds, fish, and wildlife of the area are considered sensitive air quality related values (AQRVs) since they may be affected by air pollution. Air pollution may cause habitat degradation indirectly affecting these AQRVs. Research in the saltwater bays of Chassahowitzka has shown that excess nitrogen can result in loss of submerged aquatic vegetation, which provides important forage and habitat for many species.

 

Soils

There is little information available on the sensitivity of soils in Chassahowitzka to deposition of air pollutants.

 

Vegetation

Submerged aquatic vegetation is considered a sensitive AQRV in Chassahowitzka. Research indicates that nitrogen deposition may contribute to algae blooms, which rob the submerged vegetation of nutrients and light. As a result of a sustained algae bloom in 1998, certain species of submerged vegetation declined.

In addition, field surveys have documented ozone injury on a number of plant species at the Chassahowitzka NWR. These affected plant species are sensitive AQRV's. The following links detail plant species sensitive to ozone.

 

Visibility

Visibility is a sensitive AQRV at Chassahowitzka. Visibility impairment due to fine particle pollution has been documented at Chassahowitzka, and it is currently monitored using the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network. The Visibility Information Exchange Web System (VIEWS) provides air quality data, research, and interpretation of the effects of air pollution on visibility. The following links provide access to the VIEWS visibility data and the IMPROVE visibility photos from Chassahowitzka.

 

Last updated: November 13, 2012