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Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge became America’s 563rd Refuge

Celebration ceremony to mark the establishment of Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: USFWS
On April 22, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accepted the donation of a conservation easement on a 39-acre Ashe County parcel from The Nature Conservancy, marking the establishment of Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge - the second Refuge in the Southern Appalachians. Mountain bogs are typically small and widely scattered across the landscape, often isolated from other wetlands. Important to wildlife and plants, mountain bogs are home to five endangered species – bog turtles, green pitcher plant, mountain sweet pitcher plant, swamp pink (a lily), and bunched arrowhead. They also provide habitat for migratory birds including Golden-winged Warblers, American Woodcock, and Wood Thrush. Bogs are breeding habitat for many species of amphibians, especially salamanders, of which the Southern Appalachians have the greatest diversity in the nation. They also have a natural capacity for regulating water flow, holding floodwaters like giant sponges and slowly releasing water to nearby streams decreasing the impacts of floods and droughts.

The refuge may eventually grow to 23,000 acres, depending on the willingness of landowners to sell and the availability of funds to purchase those lands. To guide acquisition, and bog conservation in general, the Service has identified 30 sites, or Conservation Partnership Areas, containing bogs and surrounding lands. These sites are scattered across Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Clay, Graham, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Transylvania, Wilkes and Watauga counties in North Carolina, and Carter and Johnson counties in Tennessee. The Service will look primarily within these Conservation Partnership Areas to acquire land and/or easements. For those acres that won’t be acquired, the Service will work to support private landowners in their stewardship activities. For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountainbogs