Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge includes more than 14,000 acres of beach, dunes, marsh, and maritime forest. Within a workday’s access to millions of people, Chincoteague Refuge is one of the most visited refuges in the United States, providing approximately 1.5 million visitors with outstanding opportunities to learn about and enjoy wildlands and wildlife.
Most of the refuge is located on the Virginia end of Assateague Island; however, 418 acres are on the Maryland side of the island, 427 acres are found on Morris Island, and 546 acres comprise Wildcat Marsh on the northern tip of Chincoteague Island. Additionally, Chincoteague Refuge’s boundaries extend south and encompass all or part of the following barrier islands: Assawoman, Metompkin, and Cedar. The refuge’s location along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a vital resting and feeding spot for a large number and diversity of birds.
Chincoteague Refuge, originally established in 1943 to provide habitat for migratory birds (with an emphasis on conserving greater snow geese), today provides habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, and song birds, as well as other species of wildlife and plants. Refuge staff manage this barrier island habitat to allow many species of wildlife to co-exist, each establishing their own place in the environment. Refuge management programs restore threatened and endangered species and conserve local wildlife and plants. The refuge also provides wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, wildlife photography and bservation, interpretation, and environmental education.