Earth System Science Academy

Sponsored by the Elizabeth City State University Network Resources and Training Site
the MU-SPIN Office of Goddard Space Flight Center

In 1975 Elizabeth City State University acquired 639 acres of land in Dismal Swamp from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Recently the U. S. Department of Education, Title III Program funded the construction of a half-mile long boardwalk and observation tower. The U.S. Navy has licensed ECSU to construct 900 feet of the boardwalk over Navy Security Group Activity.

The property is surrounded by a large buffer zone of swamp, and its therefore well protected from the effects of human activities. It is an unspoiled area of fresh water wetlands, with no visible signs of use. Parts of the area are always under water, while other parts are seasonally or rarely flooded. Slight differences in elevation define very different ecological associations.

The primary purpose of the property is to provide access to a pristine wetlands environment, and to promote public awareness of the crucial role played by wetlands in the coastal plain biome. Without the wetlands there would be no fishing industry in Albemarle or Pamlico Sounds.

The Earth System Science Academy offered educators and students the opportunity to tour the Great Dismal Swamp Boardwalk Project. ECSU students Omari Salisbury and Larry Elmore serve as Boardwalk tourguides. Dr. Maurice Powers, Director of the boardwalk project talks with participants following the tour giving them an overview of the project. Dr. Powers also shares with the participants the extent of the impact of the wetlands on local and regional economies and environments.