About the Refuge

About the Station

Our Mission: The refuge was established on March 17, 1939, under the authority of the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act and the Emergency Relief Appropriations of 1935. The Federal Government purchased land from willing sellers through the Resettlement Administration. The badly eroded land supported few populations of wildlife species; initial conservation efforts focused on restoring the barren land. Today, the refuge is managed to restore the longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem.



The Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge is one of the Southeast’s premiere sites for viewing the rapidly diminishing longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem. Learn more about this important forest resource and how refuge personnel are using prescribed burns and other management techniques to grow and maintain these forests.

Carolina Sandhills NWR History

Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1939. Its establishing purpose was to provide habitat for migratory birds, to demonstrate sound management practices that enhance natural resource conservation, and to provide wildlife-oriented recreation opportunities. The land was badly eroded and very little wildlife was to be found when the refuge was purchased by the federal government under the provisions of the Resettlement Act. Efforts began immediately to restore this damaged, barren land to a healthy, rich habitat for the plants and animals that once lived here.

Over time, the responsibilities have been added for restoration and enhancement of longleaf pine habitat for the benefit of the red-cockaded woodpecker, named as an endangered species in 1970. The refuge operates under mandates to provide environmental education and interpretation of its work. Habitat improvement and restoration of native plant communities, monitoring the populations of the RCW and other species, and assessing the impacts of management actions on the wildlife and habitats are critical elements in the refuge's operations.

Today, Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 47,850 acres, including fee ownership of 45,348 acres, and nine conservation easements totaling 2,502 acres. The majority of the refuge lies in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. There is one fee title tract totaling 210 acres in Marlboro County. Numerous small creeks and tributaries, along with thirty man-made lakes and ponds and 1,200 acres of fields, support a diversity of habitats for wildlife.