National Wildlife Refuge System

Scenic views at Swanquarter Scenic views at Swanquarter Scenic views at Swanquarter Scenic views at Swanquarter

Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge


About Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge


Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge
Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge

Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1932 for wildlife conservation. The refuge contains approximately 16,411 acres, of which 8,800 acres is the Swanquarter Wilderness Area. Swanquarter Wilderness Area is 8,800 acres. The refuge is located on the north side of Pamilico Sound, shown in green in the map to the right. It is accessible only by boat except for the Bell Island Unit that can be accessed by vehicle.

Swanquarter NWR provides wintering habitat for thousands of waterfowl including American black duck, bufflehead, lesser scaup, surf scoter, canvasback and redhead. It also provides nesting habitat for colonial nesting birds and osprey. The threatened species residing in the refuge include the American alligators.


Refuge area and Class I Designation

  • In 1976, Congress designated 8,800 acres of Swanquarter NWR as wilderness, declaring that the area should remain undeveloped and "unimpaired" for future generations.
  • In 1977, Congress acknowledged the uniqueness of the Swanquarter Wilderness Area by designating it as a Class I air quality area. As a wilderness area it is afforded special protection under the Clean Air Act.
  • Congress gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as the Federal Land Manager of the Swanquarter NWR, the responsibility to protect the air quality and natural resources, including visibility, of the area from man-made air pollution. Despite this protection, many sources of man-made air pollution affect Swanquarter NWR including power plants, gas-processing plants, oil and gas wells, and motor vehicle emissions.
  • The FWS is working cooperatively with industry and the State of North Carolina to reduce air pollution emissions and protect the air quality and Air Quality Related Values (AQRVs) of Swanquarter NWR .
  • If the Swanquarter Wilderness Area is not protected, unique wildlife and scenic values will be threatened or even lost. The FWS hopes to preserve and protect these special wilderness areas for future generations.


Learn more about air quality at Swanquarter


Three programs monitor visibility, atmospheric deposition and mercury conditions. FWS measures fine airborne particles responsible for visibility impairment in partnership with the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) program. Atmospheric pollutants in rain are analyzed by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program and mercury in rain is measured by the Mercury Deposition Network (MDN). Within this website are the resources to discover why air pollution poses a threat to Swanquarter NWR and what the FWS is doing to prevent the deterioration of air quality in this pristine area.

  • Learn the basics of air quality - Air Quality
  • Understand what are the air quality related values - AQRV
  • Learn about how air quality can affect natural and scenic resources - Impacts
  • Find real time monitoring data and studies being performed at the refuge - Studies & Monitoring



Additional Information:
Regional Air Quality Information (as provided by NPS)
Swanquarter NWR Website
Swanquarter NWR 300km Radius Map (PDF 719KB)

Last updated: March 6, 2013