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Environment

Wildlife Officials Spar With Hyde County Over Refuge Expansion

A proposed expansion of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is running into opposition with some local leaders. 

Refuge leaders say the expansion is necessary to preserve the ecosystem that supports a wide range of wildlife, including migrating birds, black bears and red wolves.

"New Lake is a naturally occurring lake out there, but we currently only have about 80 percent of it within the refuge boundary," says refuge manager Howard Phillips. 

"These natural lakes are our namesake - it's Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge -  so these are lakes, naturally occurring lakes, out there within that Pocosin habitat. That's another reason for proposing some of this to ensure we protect those habitats."

Hyde county commissioner John Fletcher is among those criticizing the plan.  He says the county can not afford to lose the acreage.

"The more land that goes under the federal government's control, the less there is as a tax base and our county of Hyde has a very low tax base as it is," Fletcher says.

"Also, instead of providing the federal government with income, in many cases it provides the government with an expense."

The project in northeastern North Carolina includes nearly 11,000 acres of privately owned property surrounding the wetlands.

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