The Lowcountry Refuges Complex
The South Carolina Lowcountry Refuges Complex is home to four National Wildlife Refuges encompassing over 115,000 acres. All four refuges are located in the Lowcountry, a geographic and cultural area distinguished by low-lying lands that extend from the Atlantic coast to the western sand hills of the state. The refuges which comprise the complex include Cape Romain NWR, Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin NWR, Santee NWR and Waccamaw NWR. These public lands encompass some of the most unique and biologically diverse wetland and upland ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast.
The Lowcountry refuges are distinguished by habitats such as blackwater rivers and creeks that thread their way through cypress-tupelo swamp forests, alluvial river floodplains surrounded by dense deciduous forests, sandhill longleaf pine forests and savannahs, historic rice fields, pristine sandy beaches and nutrient-rich tidal estuaries. These ecosystems provide a safe haven for wildlife and sustain countless species.
The National Wildlife Refuges within the complex are composed of unparalleled habitats for the nation's wildlife, including one of only twenty Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network sites in both North and South America, one of the largest undeveloped estuarine wetland systems remaining along the U.S. Atlantic coast, a critically endangered longleaf pine forest ecosystem and, the only known coastal maritime sandhill community in the state of South Carolina.