Waterfowl Management

In the peak of mid-January, Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge is the winter home for more than 10,000 ducks and geese.  The refuge protects and manages a variety of habitats to provide the safe resting and feeding areas these birds need to thrive.

Pee Dee Refuge was established as a waterfowl sanctuary.  The two largest areas of waterfowl concentration, Griffin and Andrews Lowgrounds, are closed to all entry from November 25th through March 14th.  This provides the ducks and geese a safe refuge from hunting and other disturbances.  Additionally, the Pee Dee River, which runs adjacent to these lowgrounds, is closed to all waterfowl hunting, by order of the Secretary of Interior.

Moist Soil (moist soil photo)

The refuge has three open wetlands that are managed as moist soil units.  In the spring, water is slowly drained off these areas, and they’re often burned or disked to prepare a good seed bed.  Moist soils provide the right conditions for natural waterfowl foods to germinate and grow.  These waterfowl food plants include smartweed, wild millet and panic grass.  In the fall, these areas are flooded to make the food plants accessible for ducks and geese as they arrive from their migration journey.

Flooded Croplands (Patterson-farming-wetlands photo – or the rainbow shot)

Most of our Refuge cooperative farming shares (approximately 200 acres) are left standing in the field, and then flooded with mobile pumps and captured rain water.  Flooded corn and millet crops provide an extra food source for the waterfowl that stop over and winter on the refuge.


The 150 acre Sullivan Green-Tree Reservoir (G.T.R.) is a section of bottomland hardwood forest surrounded by a mile-long levee.  The levee lets us capture and hold rain water with the help of two water control structures.  Seasonally flooding this forested area makes the acorns and other mast seeds available for ducks and geese to forage.  It’s also a great place for them roost without being disturbed.