Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina.

The 110,000-acre Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge conserves a rare type of wetland habitat, known as "pocosin," derived from a Native American word meaning "swamp on a hill." In 1963, Pungo NWR was established for the protection of waterfowl and other migratory birds. In 1990, Pocosin Lakes NWR was established to protect migratory birds and the unique pocosin wetlands, and Pungo NWR became the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes NWR. The refuge encompasses vast acres of natural wetlands, including the unique southeastern pocosin peat wetlands; open water on Pungo and New Lakes; upland pine forests; and waterfowl impoundments managed for moist soil wetlands and agricultural units that provide high-energy food for migrating and wintering waterfowl. More than a hundred thousand ducks, geese, and swans congregate on the refuge in winter, and the refuge supports one of the densest populations of black bear ever reported.

The refuge is the site of one of the country’s largest wetland restoration projects, restoring natural hydrology to the pocosin peatlands. Before the refuge was established, many acres of this wetland were drained, greatly increasing the risk of ground fire. To the greatest extent possible, the refuge is restoring the natural conditions of a healthy pocosin ecosystem. These restored pocosin peatlands provide habitat for endangered species including red wolf (Canis rufus) and red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis), as well as many other species of wildlife. 


Pocosin Lakes NWR is proud to have been recognized as a Wetland Treasure by the Carolina Wetlands Association in 2020. We continue to work with  the Carolina Wetlands Association and other partners to promote wetland protection and wetland value that will benefit wetlands across the Carolinas. 

Nearby Activities


The Administrative Office and the Walter B. Jones Center for the Sounds (the refuge Visitor Center) are located on US Highway 64 in Columbia, NC at 205 South Ludington Dr.

Additional Information