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Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

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  1. Chris Lowie Refuge Manager Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

  2. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge 1763 – George Washington Visited the Swamp

  3. 1909 – Camp Manufacturing Lumber Company Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge • Logging was a significant activity for centuries for financial benefit • Camp logged for nearly 40 years • Completely changed the habitat communities of the swamp to what it is today

  4. 1974 – Great Dismal Swamp NWR“A Gift To The Nation” Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge • Land donated by Union Camp Corp. in 1973 as Dismal Swamp NWR • Partnership with The Nature Conservancy • 49,000 acres - largest donation of public land • Dismal Swamp Act of 1974 established Great Dismal Swamp NWR “ . . . primary purpose of protecting and preserving a unique and outstanding ecosystem, as well as protecting and perpetuating the diversity of life therein.”

  5. 175 square miles To Today Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge • Over 112,900 acres of forested wetland • Ecosystem • Inherited 150 miles of ditches • Highly altered hydrology

  6. Great Dismal Swamp NWR Hydrologic History 1973 1890

  7. Why Great Dismal Swamp for NAI Workshop

  8. A Glimpse Into the Future (from Present Occurrences) Lateral West South One

  9. GDSNWR; 2004 - 2011 • 11 wildfires • 15 starts in one month in 2007 • 2 largest and most expensive in Refuge and VA history in last three years • 3 Refuges combined in Albermarle Watershed • 2008 and 2011; four fires • 94,000 acres • 20 million metric tons of carbon Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Current Fire Statistics for Albermarle Sound Refuges

  10. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge We estimate that the 20 million metric tons of carbon released in four fires would equate to annual greenhouse gas emissions from over 14,000,000 passenger vehicles or annual CO2 emissions of 17 coal fired power plants.

  11. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Atlantic White Cedar

  12. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Atlantic White Cedar

  13. Adaptation • Mitigation • Engagement Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Fish and Wildlife Service Climate Change Strategic Plan

  14. Hydrologic Restoration to Increase Resiliency of the NWRs It’s Good for Wildlife and People

  15. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Water Management

  16. Our system of ditches drain away precipitation quicker than what would have taken place historically • Frequent and prolonged periods of drought significantly lower our water table, leaving peat soils vulnerable to wildfire, soil subsidence, and oxidation of carbon • Frequency, severity, and intensity of wildfires has increased dramatically in recent years • Coastal mid-Atlantic conservation lands are experiencing loss of habitat due to rising sea levels and ground subsidence (Alligator River NWR) • Many plant species have begun to bloom earlier Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge What We Know:

  17. Wildlife will need escape routes to higher habitat as rising sea levels inundate coastal areas • Extreme weather events (hurricanes, droughts) to increase in frequency • Altered synchronology – food web disturbances • Certain species may become at risk due to lack of availability of expected food sources upon their migratory arrivals (birds) or from emergence (insects) Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge What We Think Is Likely:

  18. Hydrological research to determine the actual impact of the ditch systems on the ground water table • Installation of more water control structures to increase resiliency (adaptation) • Working with partners to conserve wildlife corridors allowing for upland movement of species • Soil accretion for carbon sequestration (mitigation) • Contributing to priority action items of the FWS Climate Change Strategic Plan Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge What We Are Doing:

  19. Agency leaders – RO, WO, DOI; Refuges, Ecological Services, Migratory Birds • Partners and potential funding sources • Fact sheets • Video • Face-to-Face briefings Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Who We Are Telling: And How:

  20. Wildlife-oriented recreation: Hiking Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Now, how do we tell our story to the public?