About the Refuge

About the refuge hdr pic

Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge was established on December 1, 1997. The purposes for which it was established were to (1) protect and manage diverse habitat components within coastal river ecosystems for the benefit of endangered and threatened species, freshwater and anadromous fish, migratory birds, and forest wildlife, including a wide array of plants and animals associated with bottomland hardwood habitats; and (2) provide a variety of wildlife-dependant recreational activities including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, and environmental education.

Located in portions of Horry, Georgetown, and Marion Counties, Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge’s acquisition boundary spans close to 55,000 acres and includes large sections of the Waccamaw and Great Pee Dee rivers and a small section of the Little Pee Dee River. An active land acquisition program from willing sellers within the boundary is ongoing.

Presently Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge encompasses nearly 29,000 acres. In 2008 Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge opened the newly constructed Cox Ferry Lake Recreation Area and has also opened a new state-of-the-art Visitor and Environmental Education Center on Highway 701 north of Georgetown.

Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge is one of four refuges in the South Carolina Lowcountry Refuges Complex. Other refuges in the Complex include: Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, and Santee National Wildlife Refuge.

Habitat within Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge’s 55,000 acre acquisition boundary includes 6,166 acres of upland forest, located primarily on Sandy Island, and the remaining balance made up primarily of jurisdictional wetlands. The wetland diversity of this refuge is what sets it apart from most others found along the east coast. Wetland habitats range from historic, broken and actively managed tidal ricefields, to black water and alluvial flood plain forested wetlands of the Waccamaw and Great Pee Dee Rivers. These tidal freshwater wetlands are some of the most diverse freshwater wetland systems found in North America and they offer many important habitats for migratory birds, fish and resident wildlife. Species such as the swallow-tailed kite, osprey, wood stork, white ibis, prothontary warbler, and many species of waterfowl can be observed on in South Carolina and is the northernmost documented nesting for this species within its range. Additionally, these wetlands play a critical role in the filtration and storm water retention of the primary drinking water resource for the greater Grand Strand region.

Learn more about History at Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge Here

View our refuge Tear Sheet