Learn More About Resource Management

Resource Mngmnt Hdr Pic 512w

Management of Water Impoundments

The impoundments on Bulls Island are managed to maximize food production for wintering populations of waterfowl and shorebirds and maintain habitat for resident birds. The process involves manipulating impoundment water levels to make food available during fall and winter months and to allow the germination of new food plants during late winter and early spring. Salt water may be added during the summer months to control undesirable plants or to allow the influx of larval marine organisms and fish.

Management of Forested Areas

The uplands on Bulls Island are being managed to promote the growth of the maritime forest habitat and control invasive exotic plants. The invasive Chinese tallow has become one of the most common trees on the island. An aggressive control plan has been implemented using a variety of herbicides and application methods to control this plant.

Protection of Nesting and Migratory Shorebirds

To protect nesting and migratory shorebirds, a strategy of temporary closures has been implemented. In addition to island nesting areas closed on an annual basis, a system of mobile closures is in place. Mobile closures are used for species that do not always nest in the same area year after year. The closures consist of "area closed" signs placed around the colony's perimeter and include a large buffer zone. These areas are closed to public entry as long as the birds are there. Once the chicks have fledged, the signs are removed.

Wilsons Plover

Management of Endangered and Threatened Species

There are three federally-listed endangered or threatened species that occur on the refuge; the loggerhead sea turtle, wood stork, and piping plover. Refuge beaches provide critical habitat for the threatened piping plover as it migrates along the beaches in the spring and fall, and surveys are conducted to monitor the plover's population numbers. Endangered wood storks are common, especially during the summer and fall months. The majority of wood storks are seen on Bulls Island where they use the ponds as feeding areas. The refuge conducts an intensive nest protection and relocation program for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle. The turtles nesting on the refuge are part of the northern sub-population of loggerhead sea turtle which encompasses the nesting area north of Amelia Island, Florida. Cape Island, the northern most barrier island of the refuge, receives the majority of nests laid, an average of 1000 nests annually. The management program for the turtle consists of a hatchery and caging operation, data collection on nesting and false crawl trends, marking and monitoring of control nests on the beach, raccoon control program, and information collection for the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network which is coordinated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Sea Turtle Hatchery   Sea Turtle Hatchery Volunteer

Management of White-tailed Deer

In order to manage the white-tailed deer population on Bulls Island, the refuge offers two archery hunts annually, one each in November and December. The harvest of surplus animals maintains the deer population at a level compatible with the environment. For hunting regulations, see the hunt brochure.

Environmental Education and Interpretation

Environmental education and interpretive programs promoting awareness and knowledge of refuge wildlife and habitats are regularly scheduled at the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center. Guided interpretive tours on Bulls Island are provided by Coastal Expeditions, the contracted concession for the refuge.

Protection of the Wilderness Area

Of the refuge land areas, 29,000 acres are designated a Class I Wilderness Area and are preserved within the National Wilderness Preservation System. As such, the refuge uses a combination of methods and equipment that least degrades the wilderness values of the land while meeting refuge objectives.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officials work closely with local, state, and federal agencies to protect wildlife and habitat and to ensure public safety on the refuge. Officials enforce hunting, fishing, boating, and safety regulations and enforce the migratory bird treaty act.

The Cape Romain NWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan


Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is an interwoven, dynamic system where tides ebb and flow through the tidal creeks of a vast expanse of salt marsh; where coastal beaches and marshes meet maritime forests; and where submerged aquatic organisms thrive and provide the foundation for estuarine life. The refuge manages, conserves, and protects these diverse habitats to support a multitude of migratory birds, sea turtles, fish, and other wildlife. The refuge provides a world-class living laboratory to foster excellence in biological and ecological research and enables students to learn and experience the natural world. Visitors can hear songbirds calling in the maritime forest, watch shorebirds feed on the tidal flats and oyster bars, or find solitude by fishing in the tidal creeks bisecting the marshy Wilderness Area.

Purpose and Need for the Plan

The purpose of the Comprehensive Conservation Plan is to develop management actions that best achieve the refuges purposes; to attain the vision and goals developed for the refuge; to contribute to the National Wildlife Refuge System mission; to address key challenges, issues, and relevant mandates; and to remain consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management.

Specifically, the Plan:

• Provides a clear statement of refuge management direction
• Provides refuge neighbors, visitors, and government officials with an understanding of Service management actions on and around the refuge
• Ensures that Service management actions, including land protection and recreation/education programs, are consistent with the mandates of the National Wildlife Refuge System
• Provides a basis for the development of budget requests for operations, maintenance, and capital improvement needs

The Cape Romain CCP outlines programs and corresponding resource needs for the next 15 years, as mandated by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.The CCP identifies a number of issues, concerns, and opportunities related to fish and wildlife protection, habitat restoration, wilderness, public recreation, and management of threatened and endangered species.

Cape Romain CCP

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