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National Wildlife Refuge

Photo collage of Tupelo Trail, a 14 ft. American alligator, a Virginia rail feeding in the marsh and one of Savannah NWR's many freshwater impoundments.
694 Beech Hill Lane
Hardeeville, SC   29927
E-mail: savannahcoastal@fws.gov
Phone Number: (843) 784-2468
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The 3,000 acres of freshwater impoundments, managed for waterfowl and home to the refuge's most notorious resident, the American alligator, were formerly the rice fields of pl
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Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

Savannah NWR, which lies on both the South Carolina and Georgia sides of the Savannah River just upriver from the city of Savannah, Georgia, was established April 6, 1927. The refuge 28,168 acres include bottomland hardwoods and tidal freshwater marsh. A 3,000 acre fringe area of upland hardwoods exists along the eastern boundary. An additional 3,000 acres forming an impoundment system are managed for migratory wading birds and waterfowl. These freshwater impoundments were formerly the rice fields of plantations dating back to the mid or late 1700's. Many of the dikes enclosing these pools were originally built during the rice culture era.

The refuge is home to a large variety of wildlife including: ducks, geese, wading birds, shorebirds and several endangered and/or threatened species including bald eagles, wood storks, manatees and shortnose sturgeon. The refuge also provides nesting areas for wood ducks, great horned owls, bald eagles, osprey and swallow-tailed kites among others.

Motorists are welcome on the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, off of S.C. 170, which meanders along four miles of earthen dikes through the managed freshwater pools and hardwood hammocks. During the spring and fall, you will usually see many alligators sunning themselves on the banks of waterways, along with an assortment of wading birds. During the winter months, waterfowl and other migratory birds are visible in the impoundment system.

The Savannah NWR Visitor Center, located on U.S. 17 (6 miles north of Savannah, GA; 7 miles south of Hardeeville, SC), is open Monday - Saturday; 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM. Visitors can enjoy an 11-minute video about the refuge, museum-quality exhibits, and browse "The Gator Hole", a nature and book store operated by the Friends of the Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges.

Getting There . . .
The Savannah NWR Visitor Center is located on U.S. Hwy 17, 7 miles south of Hardeeville, SC and 6 miles north of Savannah, GA. Hours are Monday - Saturday, 9:00 AM - 4:30PM (closed federal holidays).

The Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive is located on SC 170, 2.5 miles west of the junction with U.S. Hwy 17 and 2 miles east of the city of Port Wentworth, GA. The Drive is open seven days a week during daylight hours only.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Management Activities
The majority of Savannah's management program is focused on the vast freshwater impoundment system which provides habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl. Techniques like moist soil management, mowing, discing, water level manipulation, and occasional farming are used to provide these birds areas for food, cover, and rest. Due to the presence of a full-time fire crew at the Savannah NWR, prescribed burning has also become an extremely effective tool for managing the impoundment system.

Deer and other upland game species are managed with a public hunting program. Certain areas of the refuge are open to deer, hog, squirrel, turkey, and waterfowl hunting in accordance with state regulations and seasons.