Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Tundra swans taking flight at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge covers roughly 9,000 acres of barrier island beaches and dunes, shrub-scrub, woodlands, farmlands and fresh and brackish marsh along the Atlantic Ocean. Similar to other Atlantic and Gulf barrier islands, the refuge’s narrow coastline provides habitat for migrating waterfowl and is a birder’s paradise. About 10,000 migrating and wintering snow geese stop here and the refuge also houses threatened and endangered species such as the piping plover, peregrine falcon and bald eagle. Not just birds enjoy this wonderful natural landscape: the refuge is also home to the endangered loggerhead turtle.
An Ongoing Success Story
In 2006 and 2008, the Fund worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to add more than 100 acres to Back Bay NWR. The land, located along the Atlantic coast south of Virginia Beach, is bordered by Nannys Creek, a direct tributary to the Back Bay. By closing a critical gap in protected lands along the creek, adding this land to the refuge will improve the refuge’s water quality, increase field and marsh habitat and expand opportunities for wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation.
USFWS plans to reforest the parcel with native hardwoods, including black gum, Atlantic white cedar and bald cypress. “The story of Back Bay is an evolving one,” comments the Fund’s Reggie Hall. “Back Bay has matured from one of the earliest national wildlife refuges to an ongoing conservation success story. This represents the kind of conservation teamwork that makes wildlife habitat protection possible, in Virginia and across the nation.”