Project underway to reduce impacts of flooding, wildfires in Great Dismal Swamp

Posted at 5:09 PM, Jul 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 17:09:14-04

SUFFOLK, Va. – Crews have began construction on a $3.13 million project to install, repair or replace 12 water control structures at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

The aim of the project is to better manage refuge water levels for fire suppression, habitat management and flood risk to nearby areas.

The project is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.

The construction part of the project is expected to last five months. Broken water control structures inside the Portsmouth Ditch Trailhead will be repaired or replaced. Other structures will be installed to expand groundwater storage and diminish drainage impacts to approximately 30,000 acres in the refuge.

The Portsmouth Ditch Trailhead will be closed to the public at the Big Entry Ditch Bridge during the project.

“This project will restore a natural water balance to the refuge and help protect local communities from the impacts of a changing climate,” said Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “By improving water management, the project can help reduce the risk of flooding from intense storms and dampen the impacts of wildfires and the massive release of carbon that comes with them.”