Resource Management

To help plants and wildlife, refuge staff uses a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Refuge staff carefully considers any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation.


Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge was deeded by private owners to the federal government "as a wildlife refuge and nature and forest preserve for aesthetic and conservation purposes." The primary management objectives for the refuge are to protect, maintain, and where possible, enhance habitat for native wildlife, including migratory and resident birds and threatened and endangered species. Because the refuge is unfunded and unstaffed, management activities are minimal. Staff and volunteers conduct periodic surveys of resident and migratory birds, as well as some eradication projects for various invasive plant species. Wildland fire crews conduct prescribed burns on various parts of the refuge, typically annually.

Invasive Species Control
In recent years, invasive, exotic plants have become a serious threat to national wildlife refuges throughout the United States. Each year, three million acres of land are lost to exotic, invasive plants, and billions of dollars are spent battling their infestation. Chinese tallow tree, water hyacinth, and alligator weed are species from another area – often from another continent – that have been introduced here, locally. They reproduce rapidly, have few predators, and have low food value for wildlife. Like a green virus, these species have infested many impoundments on the refuge, and are a constant problem for refuge managers.

Prescribed Fire
Fire has shaped the local landscape for eons. Because South Carolina Coast’s long history of lightning and man-made fires, natural systems are adapted to fire and depend on frequent fire to remain healthy. Prescribed burning plays a natural role in local ecosystems and is a vital tool for managing public lands. The extraordinarily high plant species diversity of the coastal ecosystems is maintained by fire, which reduces competition from woody plants and recycles nutrients. One of the greatest benefits of prescribed fire is that it reduces “fuels” – the underbrush, branches, pine needles, leaves, and dead plant debris that have built up on the forest floor over time. If fuels are not reduced every few years, wildfires can become intense, hot, and destructive.