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Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin
National Wildlife Refuge

Grove Plantation House, built in 1828, is the headquarters and office for the Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin NWR.
8675 Willtown Road
Hollywood, SC   29449
E-mail: acebasin@fws.gov
Phone Number: 843-889-3084
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Refuge Headquarters - Grove Plantation House (Staff Photo)
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Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge helps protect the largest undeveloped estuary along the Atlantic Coast, with rich bottomland hardwoods and fresh and salt water marsh offering food and cover to a variety of wildlife. ACE Basin stands for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers, which form the estuary and parts of the Refuge boundary. The entire basin encompasses more than 350,000 acres, of which the Refuge comprises just less than 12,000 acres.

Getting There . . .
From Hwy. 17, take SC 174 (Signs will read "Edisto Beach" and "Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge"). Stay on SC 174 through Adams Run (174 will make a right turn in Adams Run). At the intersection with the flashing light (Signs will read "Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge"), turn right on to Willtown Road. Go approximately 2 miles, entrance road will be on the left (signs will read "Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge"). Office is located in the Plantation House approximately 2 miles down gravel road.

A map with printed directions may be downloaded from our Web site at http://acebasin.fws.gov.

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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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Wildlife and Habitat

The refuge has two separate units, one along the Edisto River and the other along the Combahee River.

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From the early 1700's to mid-1800's, much of the ACE Basin was home to large plantations owned by a small number of individuals who managed their wetlands primarily to grow rice.

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Management Activities
The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin is managed to provide a complex of habitats for a diversity of wildlife. Habitats are maintained and managed for endangered species, wintering waterfowl, other migratory and resident birds, mammals reptiles, amphibians, and plants.

The natural marsh is protected under both federal and South Carolina law. Impoundments (formerly rice fields) are managed for specific foods favored by various wildlife species. Forest management includes selective thinning of trees, clearing to create edge zones, hardwood and shrub planting, and burning of some forest under stories. Certain abandoned fields will undergo disking and burning to control overgrowth and enhance habitat variety. Water levels in refuge impoundments (managed wetland units) are controlled to stimulate growth of natural plant species and an abundance of insects, crustaceans, and small fish.

"Moist soil management," as this technique is called, has proven to be a highly successful method of producing nutritious food that is beneficial to waterfowl and other wildlife. No other tool is more important in this type management than the rice field trunks which control water flow between the tidal creeks or rivers and the impoundments.

First used in the 1700's on rice plantations, trunks remain the most efficient, economical water control structure in tidal situations. Trunks operate on tidal surge and consist of wooden culverts with flap gates. At least 17 species of waterfowl, such as pintail, mallard, wood duck, etc. as well as bald eagles, wood storks, alligator, herons, egrets, ibis, and numerous other wildlife species utilize the refuge impoundments.