Meet Marcia Pradines, Chesapeake Marshlands NWR Complex manager

Marcia is the project leader at the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Maryland.  Marcia brings a wealth of knowledge from her diverse experiences with us and other conservation agencies. Learn more about Marcia and her goals for managing the refuges that comprise the Complex: Blackwater, Eastern Neck, Glenn L. Martin and Susquehanna National Wildlife Refuges.


What is your professional background and experience with the Service?

I joined the FWS Division of Migratory Bird Management in DC where I oversaw our national efforts to partner for bird conservation and was later Deputy Division Chief.  I then became the Division Chief for Visitor Services and Communications for the refuge system for over four years.  Working on “the people side of things” with all the Regions and refuges has been very rewarding.

What are some of your goals as a new project leader for the Chesapeake Marshlands NWR Complex?

 Our biggest threats include sea level rise and invasive species.  An important goal is dealing with marsh loss, and focusing our land protection within the Nanticoke Division and future areas for marsh migration.  Other goals include continuing to manage for migrating and overwintering waterfowl, as well as beginning to monitor and manage for the Northern long-eared bat after discovering the first ever on the Eastern Shore of Maryland a month ago.

We had over 200,000 visitors to the Complex last year, and this will grow with the opening next March of the new Harriett Tubman National Park and State Park adjacent to us. The landscape that shaped Harriett Tubman is intact today thanks to Blackwater NWR. We will also focus on opportunities to engage both new and regular visitors including hunting, birding, paddling and wildlife viewing, to name a few.

How is Chesapeake Marshlands preparing for the dramatic loss of wetlands due to sea level rise and the degradation of marshlands due to the nutria population? 

Blackwater NWR has lost over 5,000 acres of marsh since established in 1933.  Our approach is facilitating adaptation and resiliency through partnerships.  We partnered with APHIS Wildlife Services to eradicate the invasive nutria, with great success.  We also partnered with The Conservation Fund and Audubon Maryland-DC to develop a comprehensive sea level rise adaptation plan.  We are facilitating marsh migration into what is now upland habitat through controlling phragmites and focusing our land protection efforts where future wetlands will be.  We are also building resiliency into our marshes through living shorelines, restorations, and marsh thin-layering.


Marcia Pradines with FWS Northeast Region’s Rick Bennett, senior scientist, and Scott Kahan, Regional Refuge Chief as Miles Simmons, biological technician, ably gets the team to Martin National Willdife Refuge on Smith Island to view living shoreline readiness for future sea level and storm surges. Photo credit: USFWS

What do you believe is your greatest accomplishment with the FWS?  

 A highlight was spearheading the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program with the “Conserving the Future” vision team.  The primary goal is to engage new audiences in conservation. The Service’s mission ends with “for the continuing benefit of the American people.”  If people enjoy and care about wildlife, and realize how it benefits them, they will support conservation. This is a common goal now shared by the States, NGOs, and other countries.

Marcia would like you all to know more about these resources:

Planning for marsh migration at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater 2100: A strategy for salt marsh persistence in an era of climate change, 2013

Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex comprehensive conservation plan (2006) [Editor: ten year old document still a vital road map forward]

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