National Wildlife Refuge System

Happy 75th Birthday Carolina Sandhills Refuge, SC


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The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker thrives in the longleaf pine forests of Carolina Sandhills Refuge, SC.
Credit: John Maxwell

March 11, 2014 - Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina, celebrating its 75th anniversary this week, has one of the largest remaining populations of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, a striking black and white bird that builds its nest inside mature pine trees.  The male has a rarely visible small red streak on each side of its black cap, giving the bird its name. They are the only woodpeckers to excavate nesting and roosting sites in living trees, but their favored longleaf pine habitat - which once covered 90 million acres in the southeastern United States – is down to fewer than two million acres, explaining the woodpecker’s endangered status. 

Carolina Sandhills Refuge was established in 1939 to preserve the unique longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem, is now celebrating its 75th anniversary.  A full day of activities on March 15 includes archery lessons, duck calling and a retriever demonstration, as well as tours focused on birding, geology, wildlife photography and natural history wagon rides through the longleaf pine forest.

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Visitors Drive at Carolina Sandhills Refuge, SC, is a good site for birdwatching. The refuge is home to nearly 200 species of birds, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
Credit: Jack Culpepper

The refuge also invited more than 40 researchers from 1970 to the present to submit posters of research conducted on the refuge.  Eighteen posters are on display from scientists and students who studied the pine barrens tree frog, the geology of Chesterfield County, bees, the southern flying squirrel, amphibian diversity, the Carolina pigmy rattlesnake and of course – the red-cockaded woodpecker.

After the anniversary exhibit at the refuge, the posters will travel to Clemson University, Coker College and several other colleges and high schools to introduce students to possible careers in natural resource management and research. The refuge is considering additional locations to share the exhibit as well.

Hunting and fishing are both permitted at Carolina Sandhills Refuge. Deer hunts are held every fall for archery, primitive weapons and firearms hunters. There are youth hunts for turkey and deer. Hunters with disabilities may obtain a Special Use Permit to use ATVs on refuge roads.  The refuge also has several hiking trails.

Last updated: March 11, 2014