News Release
Southeast Region


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New Project Leader at the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge Complex

November 5, 2010

Deborah Pierce,, telephone 252-926-4021


Deb Pierce stands on a pier

Deb Pierce. Credit: Bernice Kitts, USFWS.


Deborah Pierce, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the new project leader of the Mattamuskeet, Swan Quarter, and Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuges near Swan Quarter, North Carolina. She began her new duties on June 20, 2010.  As project leader she oversees activities on these three refuges in the Outer Banks.

“Previously, Deborah served as deputy project leader for West Tennessee Refuges, a large, four- refuge complex, says Cindy Dohner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Director.  “Her leadership skills, combined with her solid background in wildlife management, make her a terrific new manager for the North Carolina coastal refuges.”

At West Tennessee Refuges, Pierce fashioned a draft plan that, if approved, will expand the complex’s acquisition boundaries and connect Chickasaw, Lower Hatchie, and Hatchie Refuges
Prior to her experience at West Tennessee Refuges, Pierce started her Service career as a biologist at the South Florida Ecological Services Office in Vero Beach for four years.  She spent the next two years in Sacramento, California, as listing coordinator for Service’s Pacific Southwest Region, followed by another two years as a division chief of Listing and Recovery in Carlsbad, California.

“I am very excited to join the team at this historic and amazing Mattamuskeet refuge complex. This move brought me back to the east coast close to family, and to a state I love,” says Deborah Pierce. “I spent three years in North Carolina while I was working on my master’s degree, and I am glad to be back.”

 According to Pierce, the biggest challenge for the refuge complex is the control of invasive species, particularly the common reed or Phragmites australis.  She plans to get a handle on the Phragmites invasion at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge and to keep this invader at bay on Swanquarter and Cedar Island Refuges.  Pierce says she is looking forward to working with the State of North Carolina to restore the historic Pumping House and Lodge on Lake Mattamuskeet.

Located along the Atlantic Flyway, Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for wintering waterfowl.  It is best known for its shallow, 40,000-acre Lake Mattamuskeet, North Carolina’s largest natural lake.  In the winter, as many as 250,000 waterfowl are found on the lake at once in winter, including upwards of 25,000 tundra swan which spend their entire winter on the lake. Mattamuskeet Refuge also hosts red wolves, black bears, bobcats, deer, ospreys, and bald eagles, along with several other species.  Swan Quarter National Wildlife Refuge is located on the north shore of Pamlico Sound.  Most of the refuge is only accessible by boat.  Its marshes and forested wetlands provide habitat for American alligators, ospreys, bald eagles, and migratory waterfowl.  Established in 1964, Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge sits on the end of a peninsula marking the southern end of Pamlico Sound.  Its marshes and pocosin and woodland habitats host American alligators, brown pelicans, and waterfowl.

Originally from Vermont, Pierce holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Miami in Florida and a master’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  She enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, swimming, surfing, fishing, hunting, camping, and nature photography.  She loves to travel and often spends her week-ends adventuring with her dog, Siena.   

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.   Please visit the Service’s websites at and

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2010 News Releases.

Last updated: November 5, 2010