It is an important resting location for hundreds of species of migratory birds, many of which have nesting areas in or near the refuge. Swainson's warbler and Wayne's warbler are two species that are common and noteworthy in the swamp.
Spanning across the Virginia border and into North Carolina is the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and Natural Area. With 82,000 acres in Virginia and 38,000 acres in North Carolina, this is one of the largest swamps in the northeast United States.
The mysteriously and formidably named Great Dismal Swamp straddles the North Carolina-Virginia border only a few miles inland from the Atlantic coast. This region was referred to in correspondence as "dismal swamp" as early as 1715, and appears as Great Dismal Swamp on the 1733 Moseley map.
Some quick facts I found from the epa.gov site; originally Virginia had wetlands coverage of more than 7%, now we are down to 4%. This is a huge loss of 42% leaving us at 1 million acres of leftover wetlands
Unlike most swamps, it is not located near a river. It is a coastal plain swamp. Trees like cypress, black gum, juniper, and water ash are common.
Black bears have occurred in almost every county in Virginia, but the highest numbers are in
the Appalachian Mountains and in and around the Great Dismal Swamp in the southeast.
. In fact, slaves had been escaping their masters and creating some of the earliest known paths of the Underground Railroad during the late 18th century. Called maroons, those runaways formed their own secret communities throughout Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp, and even as far south as in the Florida Everglades among the Seminole Indians.
Since 2001, Sayers has been researching and exploring the presence of maroons (African-Americans who permanently escaped enslavement) and other communities in the swamp’s approximately 200 square miles of undeveloped, densely wooded wetlands in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina.
Many tales have been told about the Great Dismal and its mysterious circular lake, a biological wonder few have ever experienced. Several poets and history writers viewed this place in different ways: both a paradise and a place of foreboding unknown; rich and desolate; sweet smelling and pungent; a place where a person may find peace, or if lost, may never find the way out.
Before it was put out, the fire consumed more than 6,500 acres and as much as five feet of peat soil in the swamp. Smoke from the fire also extended as far north as Maryland at one point.