National Wildlife Refuge System

Scenic Views at Cape Romain Scenic Views at Cape Romain Scenic Views at Cape Romain Scenic Views at Cape Romain

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge


About Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge


Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1932 as a migratory bird refuge. Bulls Island was added to the refuge in 1936, increasing the size of the refuge to 35,287 acres with an additional 31,000 acres of open water. Jeremy Island was added to the refuge in 2004. Cape Romain NWR is located in Charleston County, South Carolina, 20 miles northeast of Charleston, shown in green in the map to the right. The refuge encompasses a 22-mile segment of the Atlantic coast and includes barrier islands, salt marshes, intricate coastal waterways, long sandy beaches, fresh and brackish water impoundments, and maritime forests.

Cape Romain NWR has a rich diversity of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, and crustaceans. This diversity is especially evident in birds, with over 293 species present. There are eight Federally-listed and eight State-listed endangered or threatened species found at Cape Romain NWR. These species include the bald eagle, least tern, loggerhead sea turtle, piping plover, wilson's plover, wood stork, American swallow-tailed kite, Red wolf, and West Indian Manatee.


Refuge Area and Class I Designation

  • In 1975, Congress designated a portion of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area, declaring that the area should remain undeveloped and "unimpaired" for future generations. The wilderness now includes 29,000 acres.
  • In 1977, Congress acknowledged the uniqueness of the Cape Romain Wilderness by naming it as a Class I air quality area. As a wilderness area it is afforded special protection under the Clean Air Act.
  • Congress gave the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as the Federal Land Manager (FLM) of the Cape Romain Wilderness, the responsibility to protect the air quality and air quality related values (AQRVs) of the area from man-made air pollution. Despite this protection, many sources of man-made air pollution affect Cape Romain NWR including industry, power plants, and automobiles.
  • The FWS and the State of South Carolina are working cooperatively with industry and regional utilities to control air pollutant emissions in order to protect Cape Romain NWR. The FWS has begun a program to better understand air pollution causes and effects at Cape Romain NWR.
  • If Cape Romain NWR is not protected, unique wildlife and scenic values will be threatened or even lost, as has happened along much of the Atlantic Coast. The FWS hopes to preserve and protect this special area of wilderness for future generations.


Learn more about air quality at Cape Romain


FWS monitors air quality in Cape Romain NWR in partnership with two national programs. Atmospheric pollutants in rain are analyzed as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP - the "acid rain" program). Fine particles responsible for visibility impairment are measured as part of the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) program. In addition, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) monitors concentrations of ozone in the air at Cape Romain. Within this site are the resources to discover why air pollution poses a threat to Cape Romain NWR and what the FWS is doing to prevent the deterioration of air quality in this pristine area.

  • Learn the basics of air quality - Air Quality
  • Understand what are the air quality related values - AQRV
  • Learn about how air quality can affect natural and scenic resources - Impacts
  • Find real time monitoring data and studies being performed at the refuge - Studies & Monitoring



Additional Information:
Regional Air Quality Information (as provided by NPS)
Cape Romain NWR Website
Cape Romain NWR 300km Radius Map (PDF 591KB)

Last updated: November 13, 2012