National Wildlife Refuge
|Interior Island located between the mainland and
Hilton Head Island, SC
Beaufort County, SC
Phone Number: (843) 784-2468
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|With over fourteen miles of trails open to hiking and bicycling, studying, viewing and photographing Pinckney Island's wildlife and scenery are popular activities throughout t|
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
Pinckney Island NWR, established December 4, 1975, was once included in the plantation of Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a prominent lawyer active in South Carolina politics from 1801 to 1815. Few traces of the island's plantation in the 1800's exist today. From 1937 to 1975, when it was donated to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Pinckney Island was privately owned and managed as a game preserve.
The 4,053 acre refuge includes Pinckney Island, Corn Island, Big and Little Harry Islands, Buzzard Island and numerous small hammocks. Pinckney is the largest of the islands and the only one open to public use. Nearly 67% of the refuge consists of salt marsh and tidal creeks. A wide variety of land types are found on Pinckney Island alone: salt marsh, forestland, brushland, fallow field and freshwater ponds. In combination, these habitats support a diversity of bird and plant life. Wildlife commonly observed on Pinckney Island include waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, neo-tropical migrants, white-tailed deer and American alligators, with large concentrations of white ibis, herons, and egrets.
Getting There . . .
The refuge is located in Beaufort County, South Carolina and is 1/2 miles west of Hilton Head Island off of U.S. Highway 278. The island is bound by Skull Creek (the Intracoastal Waterway) on the east, Mackay Creek on the west, and its northern tip faces Port Royal Sound. From I-95, take SC Exit 8 east towards Hilton Head Island approximately 16 miles to the entrance gate on the left.
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Each year, during the cooler winter months, areas of the island are prescribed burned to clear the understory of undesirable hardwoods, thick shrubs, and vines as well as reduce the threat of wildfire. This practice fosters the growth of more desirable wildlife vegetation for periods of time following the fire.
Forest thinning allows sunlight to reach the forest floor and promotes the growth of valuable wildlife foods such as blackberry bushes. As competition for existing resources diminishes, remaining trees grow more vigorously and forest stands produce better quality trees.
To maintain wildlife openings, areas are periodically mowed and disked. This interrupts the natural succession of plant communities toward their climax stage, and prevents beneficial annual and perennial grasses from being replaced with woody shrubs or trees. "Edge species" which frequent the borders between two different succession stage areas prefer these open spaces. In addition, some species may require an assortment of habitats to fulfill their entire life cycle, therefore a mosaic of different habitats is required. The freshwater ponds provide loafing and resting areas for migrating waterfowl during fall.