About the Refuge

ACE River Basins

The ACE Basin represents one of the largest undeveloped wetland ecosystems remaining on the Atlantic Coast.

History of the greater ACE Basin

From the early 1700s to mid 1800s, much of the ACE Basin was home to large plantations owned by a small number of individuals who managed their wetlands primarily to grow rice. After the rice culture declined in the late 1800s, wealthy sportsmen purchased many of these plantations as hunting retreats. The new owners successfully managed the former rice fields and adjacent upland estates for a wide range of wildlife.

The enormous natural values found on the refuge today are still here because past private landowners tended the area so wisely. Undeveloped and unpolluted, the habitat remains diverse and extremely productive.

More information on the ACE Basin Project is available here


 Alexander Pond with House




The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge helps protect the largest undeveloped estuary along the Atlantic Coast, with rich bottomland hardwoods and fresh and salt water marsh offering food and cover to a variety of wildlife.  ACE Basin stands for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and  Edisto Rivers, which form the estuary and parts of the Refuge boundary. The entire basin encompasses more than 350,000 acres, of which the Refuge comprises just less than 12,000 acres.

Part of the historical values of the ACE Basin were also protected. The refuge office, a former rice plantation house built in 1828, is one of a few antebellum mansions that survived the civil war in the ACE Basin area. Former owners ensured it would be preserved by placing it on the National Register of Historical Places. Undeveloped and unpolluted, the habitat remains diverse and extremely productive.

For more information on the history of the Grove Plantation, click here