National Wildlife Refuges in South Carolina

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South Carolina National Wildlife Refuges

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South Carolina National Wildlife Refuges mapNational Wildlife Refuges exist primarily to safeguard wildlife populations through habitat preservation and, as such, offer prime opportunity to view or photograph birds and other wildlife. Other recreational opportunities vary, as do development and accessibility. Hunting, trapping and fishing are permitted on a NWR when compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was established and acquired. All state and federal regulations pertaining to hunting, trapping and fishing apply.

The Tybee NWR in Jasper County at the mouth of the Savannah River, is considered a sanctuary for migratory birds and closed to all public use.

There are seven wildlife refuges in South Carolina open to public use:

Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin NWR
P.O. Box 848
Hollywood, SC 29449
(843) 889-3084

Offers opportunity for hiking, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, deer and waterfowl hunting, and historical interpretation. The 11,815-acre refuge is made up of the Edisto River Unit (7,200 acres) and the Combahee River Unit (4,564 acres). Proposed land purchases would increase the refuge to 18,000 acres. In addition to wading birds, shorebirds and raptors, bald eagles nest on both refuge units and endangered wood storks are there during the summer. Concentrations of up to 30,000 ducks use the impoundments in winter. The 1828 Grove Plantation House, one of only three antebellum mansions in the ACE (Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto rivers) Basin area to survive the Civil War, houses refuge offices. Refuge office is located 25 miles south of Charleston off U.S. 17 near Adams Run.

Carolina Sandhills NWR
23734 U.S. 1
McBee, SC 29101
(843) 335-8401

Offers a 9-mile paved auto tour route, two hiking trails (1 and 3 miles), fishing ponds, deer hunting, and numerous wildlife observation sites, including two observation towers and a photography blind. The refuge's 45,348 acres include 1,400 acres of fields and forests, and 30 ponds and lakes. The largest population of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers within the refuge system is found here, along with rare plants that include several carnivorous plants, and the unusual pine barrens tree frog. The refuge is 4 miles north of McBee on U.S. 1.

Cape Romain NWR
5801 U.S. 17 North
Awendaw, SC 29429
(843) 928-3264

Offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, hunting, shelling and beach combing, a red wolf viewing area, and the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center jointly operated with the Francis Marion National Forest. The refuge consists of 35,267 acres of barrier island beach and sand dunes, salt marsh, maritime forests, tidal creeks, fresh and brackish water impoundments, and 31,000 acres of open water. It has the largest nesting rookery for brown pelicans, terns and gulls on the South Carolina coast, and the largest nesting population of loggerhead sea turtles outside of Florida. It is also home to over 277 species of birds, including concentrations of waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and raptors. The office and visitor center are 20 miles north of Charleston on U.S. 17. From there, a ferry takes visitors to the island.

Pinckney Island NWR
c/o Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex
694 Beech Hill Lane
Hardeeville, SC 29927
(843) 784-2468

Offers hiking/biking trails, kayaking, an annual one-day deer hunt, and environmental education/interpretation. About 2,700 acres of the refuge's total of 4,053 acres are salt marsh and tidal creeks. It encompasses four islands - Corn, Little Harry, Big Harry, and Pinckney Island - the latter of which, at approximately 1,200 acres, is the largest and the only one open to the public. Wildlife commonly observed includes large concentrations of white ibis, herons, and egrets as well as other waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors and neo-tropical migrants, and white-tailed deer and American alligators. Refuge entrance is half a mile west of Hilton Head Island off of U.S. 278.

Santee NWR
2125 Fort Watson Road
Summerton, SC 29148
(803) 478-2217

Offers walking trails, an auto tour route, fishing, hunting and a visitors center with educational exhibits. The 13,000 acres of the refuge are a major wintering area for ducks and geese, as well as a nesting and stopover area for neo-tropical migratory birds, raptors, shore birds, and wading birds. Endangered/threatened species on the refuge include the American alligator and the wood stork. The refuge is located on the north shore of Lake Marion, the largest lake in South Carolina. It is about an hour north of Charleston off of I-95 at exit 102 (U.S. 15/301).

Savannah NWR
c/o Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex
694 Beech Hill Lane
Hardeeville, SC 29927
(843) 784-2468

Offers 36 miles of dikes open seasonally for hiking and bicycling, the four-mile Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive for automobile touring year-round, fishing, hunting, and environmental education/interpretation. The refuge's 29,175 acres include more than 38 miles of river and 25 miles of streams and creeks that make up estuarine and tidal freshwater wetlands, plus bottomland hardwoods and a fringe area of upland hardwoods. The refuge is home to ducks, geese, great horned owls, bald eagles, osprey, swallow-tailed kites, other wading birds and shorebirds, and several endangered and/or threatened species including wood storks, manatees and shortnose sturgeon. The refuge is on U.S. 17, seven miles south of Hardeeville, and six miles north of Savannah, Georgia.

Waccamaw NWR
21424 N. Fraser Street
Georgetown, SC 29440
(843) 527-8069

Offers opportunities for hiking, boating, canoeing, and kayaking, fishing, hunting and environmental education activities. The refuge encompasses approximately 23,000 acres that include large sections of tidal emergent wetlands, forested wetlands, and upland forests associated with the Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers. Refuge habitats support more than 400 species of animals, including the highest density of nesting swallow-tailed kites in South Carolina and the northernmost documented nesting site for this species. The refuge's Cox Ferry Recreation Area has three miles of interpretive nature trails, a boardwalk, kiosks, and a shelter with picnic tables. Waccamaw NWR was established in 1997, and recreation planning and development, and land acquisition, are ongoing. The visitor and environmental education center is off of U.S. 701 north of Georgetown.

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