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Lake Mattamuskeet NWR attracts more than 200,000 ducks, geese and swans from November to February. Photo by Allie Stewart, USFWS.

Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission strengthen collaboration to improve the lake’s health and boost outdoor recreation at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge

Raleigh, North Carolina - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission today announced additional steps to strengthen their long-standing conservation partnership and said the lake at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge in Swan Quarter, North Carolina, will be the big winner.

Today’s announcement builds on a commitment put in place in December 2014 to collaborate more closely on efforts to improve Lake Mattamuskeet’s ecosystem and enhance public access.  

At the same time, this new Memorandum of Understanding signed on Thursday clearly outlines the distinct roles of the two agencies and the lands they manage, and it identifies specific programs they will work closely together to fulfill the purpose of the Refuge and objectives of its Comprehensive Conservation Plan.  

This understanding paves the way for stronger collaboration, co-managing more than a dozen projects aimed at addressing the health of the lake’s ecosystem, identifying research needs and habitat restoration opportunities and putting in place facilities and infrastructure improvements for enhanced public access.

“Since 1934, Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge has provided vital support to the annual lifecycle needs of migratory birds, most notably the myriad waterfowl species that stopover along their annual migration,” said John Litton Clark, Chairman of the Wildlife Resources Commission.  “This partnership will leverage resources to optimally implement management actions that will sustain those and other wildlife populations for future generations to enjoy.”

“The health of Lake Mattamuskeet is of utmost importance to both agencies and the public,” said Gordon Myers, Executive Director of the Wildlife Resources Commission.

Cindy Dohner of USFWS and Gordon Myers signing the MOU.
From left to right, Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director, David Viker (standing), Regional Chief of the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System, John Litton Clark, Wildlife Commission Chairman, Kyle Briggs (standing), Chief Deputy Director, and Gordon Myers, the Wildlife Resources Commission’s Executive Director.

“This increased collaboration between partner agencies will provide priority attention and support to sustain waterfowl and other wildlife dependent upon this unique and complex ecosystem.”

“Today’s action builds on our long-standing partnership with the Wildlife Resources Commission that has resulted in positive outcomes for fish and wildlife populations at the Refuge,” said Cindy Dohner, Regional Director for the Service’s Southeast Region. “Working collaboratively will allow us to focus our conservation work at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge and enable us to pursue additional research needs and public use opportunities.”

Collaborative projects currently underway or complete include:

  • The Service and the Commission have both provided funds to support badly needed research on submerged aquatic vegetation in Lake Mattamuskeet in which both the University of North Carolina and Valdosta State University currently are playing key roles.
  • Compiling data to help us for the first time develop an inundation model for surrounding public and private lands at different lake levels.
  • The Service and the Commission provided the funds to replace water quality monitoring stations in the lake in 2015, and the Commission is helping fund their operation with the U.S. Geological Survey this year.  Citizens can check out the gauges by visiting here:
  • The Commission stocked 75,000 largemouth bass fingerlings in 2015 to bolster a survival and recruitment study.

Mattamuskeet NWR is one of nine located in Eastern North Carolina. Mattamuskeet NWR covers 50,400 acres including Lake Mattamuskeet, the Refuge’s 40,100-acre centerpiece. It was established by Executive Order in 1934 during President Franklin Roosevelt’s second term to benefit migratory birds.

The Refuge lies in the middle of the Atlantic Flyway and is a critical and internationally important stop-over and wintering area benefiting hundreds of thousands of waterfowl using this migration route annually. Nineteen species of waterfowl stopover or winter on the Refuge each year. Up to 80 percent of the northern pintail population, 35 percent of the eastern population of tundra swans, and 30 percent of all green-winged teal use the Refuge as they migrate up and down the Atlantic Flyway.

While noted for its waterfowl, the Refuge also provides habitats for a diverse fishery resource that includes recreational freshwater species and Atlantic blue crab, nesting osprey, wintering bald eagles and peregrine falcons, deer, black bears, bobcats, otters, gray foxes, and 240 species of birds inhabit the Refuge over the course of the year. Mattamuskeet NWR is visited by tens of thousands of people annually, who enjoy a variety of compatible recreational uses including; hunting, fishing, nature photography, wildlife viewing, boating and canoeing. The Refuge’s permitted waterfowl hunts draw more than 3,000 applicants annually.

About the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities. To learn more, visit


Kristopher Smith, NCWRC 919-707-0206

Jeff Fleming, USFWS 404-679-7287

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. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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