Resource Management

This 15,000-acre refuge lies within the Atlantic Coastal Plain and consists of mixed hardwoods, mixed pine hardwoods, pine plantations, marsh, croplands, old fields, ponds, impoundments, and open water.  This tremendous diversity of habitats supports many kinds of wildlife.  

Myriad of wildlife species inhabit the varied landscape of Santee NWR. During the winter months, the bald eagle and occasionally the peregrine falcon can be seen. From November through February, migrating waterfowl, such as mallards, pintails, teal, and wood ducks, along with Canada geese, are a major attraction. Throughout the year, red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks can be viewed soaring overhead, as can a variety of songbirds in the trees, and wild turkey.
Birds are not the only residents of Santee NWR. The forest provides a home for white-tailed deer and other woodland creatures, such as raccoons, squirrels, and bobcats. The ponds and marshes provide a home for alligators, plus a number of other reptiles and amphibians. 
To support a large variety of wildlife species, intensive habitat management is a must. The habitat 
management programs at Santee NWR range from the very basic to complex. One of the basic programs is the wood duck nest box program, where nesting boxes are provided in areas that are lacking in available tree cavities, thus “adding to” the natural habitat. The water and marsh management program is more complex. Water levels are adjusted to provide maximum benefits for wildlife. In the impoundments and marshes different levels are used to help some types of vegetation to grow while controlling unwanted “pest plants.” Periodically flooded woodlands containing nut-producing hardwoods are food-rich and very beneficial to waterfowl.
The management of forest and croplands is also critical. Refuge staff plant corn, wheat, millet, nutgrass, or other small grain crops. These crops attract many species of wildlife and provide an excellent source of high-energy foods for wintering waterfowl. Refuge forests are maintained with management techniques, ranging from prescribed burning to selective thinning. Habitat management is a complicated process but well worth the effort since it provides an abundant amount of food, cover, and shelter for a wide range of animals.