Aerial view of oligohaline marshes at Donal C. O’Brien Jr. Sanctuary at Pine Island. [courtesy Audubon Society]

NC - Audubon, Currituck Sound Coalition announce conservation plan for Currituck marshes

Audubon North Carolina and the Currituck Sound Coalition announced the release of a landmark Marsh Conservation Plan that identifies the complex web of threats facing Currituck Sound and offers a blueprint of how best to protect and restore this invaluable coastal ecosystem for wildlife and people.

The extensive freshwater marshes of Currituck Sound are a globally rare ecosystem and provide habitat to all kinds of wildlife. Audubon’s science shows the sound is among the most important places for birds in the world—the region is a formally designated Important Bird Area—and could serve as a stronghold for species as the climate changes. These same wetlands also support human communities by filtering water, serving as a buffer against erosion and flooding, and supporting a thriving recreation economy.

But even as new research is helping us better understand the ecology of the sound, its marshes are slipping away at a rate of 70 acres per year. The region faces increased erosion, encroaching development, and one of the fastest rates of sea level rise on the Atlantic coast. The Currituck Sound Coalition is working to offer a path toward a healthy, resilient future for the sound and the wildlife and people who depend on it.

“There aren’t many places left where you can see marsh all the way to the horizon, and even that is changing in Currituck Sound,” said Cat Bowler, Coastal Resilience Program Manager at Audubon North Carolina. “No single organization or community can respond to these threats alone. That’s why the coalition formed, to come up with a plan and a shared vision for what a resilient future can look like for the ecosystem.”

The Marsh Conservation Plan and the Currituck Sound Coalition are part of Audubon’s growing coastal resilience work based out of the Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Sanctuary at Pine Island, located on the sound. Partners in the Currituck Sound Coalition include the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, Audubon North Carolina, Coastal Studies Institute, Chowan University, Currituck County, Ducks Unlimited, North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, National Wildlife Refuge Association, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Sea Grant, The Nature Conservancy, Town of Duck, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

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