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Roanoke River
National Wildlife Refuge

114 W. Water Street
Windsor, NC   27983
E-mail: roanokeriver@fws.gov
Phone Number: 252-794-3808
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The Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge is part of the largest, least disturbed bottomland hardwood systems remaining in the eastern United States.
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Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge

Roanoke River NWR was established in 1989 to protect and enhance wooded wetlands consisting of bottomland hardwoods and swamps with high waterfowl value along the Roanoke River. The extensive bottomland hardwood habitat of the Roanoke River NWR is part of what the Nature Conservancy calls "one of the last great places."

Refuge lands consist of bottomland hardwood forest interspersed with cypress-tupelo sloughs that includes forested wetlands in the lower 130 miles of the Roanoke River from the fall line at Weldon, NC downstream to the Albemarle Sound near Plymouth, NC. The refuge includes part of an extensive wetland ecosystem that contains excellent examples of several southeastern plant communities and habitat types. These include levee forest, cypress-gum swamp, bottomland hardwoods, oxbows, beaver ponds and blackwater streams. These communities add to the rich mosaic of habitat types in the river's floodplain.

The refuge includes valuable wetlands for fish and wildlife; especially waterfowl, neotropical migrants, and anadromous fish. The refuge hosts 214 species of birds, including 88 breeding resident species and the largest inland heron rookery in the state; white-tailed deer; one of the largest natural wild turkey populations in North Carolina; and a remnant population of black bear along with numerous small game and a diversity of fish species including anadromous fish.

Getting There . . .
The refuge office/visitor contact station is located at 114 W. Water St., Windsor, NC off US Hwy 17. Refuge tracts are most easily accessed by boat. Due to the intermittent swales and ridges found within the vast floodplain limited access by vehicle is only availalbe from US HWYs 13/17 ten miles south of Windsor.

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Management Activities
The Roanoke River and the associated refuge floodplain wetlands are especially important to anadromous fish, marine species that ascend rivers to spawn. Anadromous fish include striped bass, blueback herring, alewife, hickory and American Shad. Refuge staff are researching the effect of asynchronous river flow patterns on anadromous fish utilization of refuge floodplain fish spawning habitat and on water quality parameters in the river proper and its associated tributaries. Vegetative transect surveys are conducted to monitor the effects of asynchronous river flows on species composition. Relicensing of upriver hydroelectric dams was scheduled for 2001.

In partnership with VA Power, National Marine Fisheries, NC Division of Marine Fisheries and other divisions within the FWS, the refuge has been actively studying use of the Roanoke River floodplain by anadromous clupeids to learn the extent anadromous clupeids rely on the floodplain for spawning habitat and the effect asynchronous flows have on spawning success. Mowing of old logging roads occurs once a year during the summer months. Other than this, habitat manipulation in this floodplain system is very small, permitting resource values to be maintained by natural processes.

Refuge staff conducts Neotropical and resident bird species surveys during the spring and summer along established transects on the river's floodplain and conducts a wood duck banding program every summer.