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Carolina Sandhills
National Wildlife Refuge

23734 Highway 1
McBee, SC   29101
E-mail: carolinasandhills@fws.gov
Phone Number: 843-335-8401
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Longleaf pine wiregrass ecosystem
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Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge

Carolina Sandhills NWR was established in 1939 as a federal refuge for indigenous wildlife and game management demonstration project. The South Carolina State Commission of Forestry also conducted timber production and harvesting as long as these activities conformed to good game management and forestry practices. Over the years, management objectives have since been added and modified under other authorities. The 45,348-acre refuge now serves as a demonstration site for land management practices, which preserve and enhance the longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem.

Carolina Sandhills NWR is situated along the fall line separating the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the Piedmont Plateau in what is known as the Sandhills Region of South Carolina. Due to its location, the refuge is home to a variety of plants, animals, and habitat types characteristic of both the coastal plain and Piedmont Plateau. Rolling sandhills and deep sandy soils found here are remnants of an ancient coastal shoreline of what is now known as the Atlantic Ocean.

The refuge supports approximately 190 species of birds, 42 species of mammals, 41 species of reptiles, 25 species of amphibians, and innumerable species of plants. Among this diverse group of fauna and flora are several species that are listed as threatened or endangered. These include the Swainson's warbler, red-cockaded woodpecker, pine barrens treefrog, white wicky, Well's pixie moss, and the sweet pitcher plant. Thirty man-made lakes & ponds & over 1,200 acres of fallow fields, forest openings, & cultivated fields contribute to the diverse habitat found here. The refuge supports an estimated 125 clusters of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, the largest population in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Getting There . . .
From Columbia, SC take I-20 east, exiting at Exit 98 and turning left onto Highway 521. Follow Highway 521 into Camden, SC to the intersection of US Highway 1 and 521. Turn right, going north on Highway 1. Follow Highway 1 for approximately 35 miles, going through Camden, Bethune, and McBee. The entrance to the refuge is 3-1/2 miles north of McBee. From Florence, SC, take Highway 52 west to SC Highway 151 west in Darlington. Follow Highway 151 approximately 20 miles to the intersection of Highway 151 and US Highway 1 in McBee. Turn right, following Highway 1 north for 3-1/2 miles to the refuge entrance.

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Management Activities
The refuge conducts a variety of management programs that benefit a wide array of wildlife species. The federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker receives special consideration as many of the refuge's management activities are aimed at creating and maintaining optimum habitat conditions and aiding in recovery efforts for the red-cockaded woodpecker. This woodpecker requires mature pines for its cavities and extensive pine forests to meet its foraging requirements. Such habitat is plentiful on the refuge and more is being created as a result of management practices that include installing artificial nesting cavities, population monitoring, and modern timber management techniques.

Prescribed burning is conducted to mimic the natural fires that historically burned through longleaf pine/wiregrass areas every few years. These fires suppress the growth of hardwood trees, creating an open park-like habitat preferred by the red-cockaded woodpecker and many other animals and plants native to this ecosystem. Pond water levels are manipulated seasonally to encourage growth of desirable emergent aquatic vegetation, provide invertebrate food for fish and waterfowl, and control unwanted submergent vegetation.

Certain fields and forest clearings are planted to food crops for wildlife such as waterfowl, quail, dove, turkey, and deer. Other areas are planted to drought tolerant legumes and grasses for soil enrichment and stabilization. Artificial nesting boxes are placed in open areas for bluebirds and near water for wood ducks. These boxes augment natural cavities, and are regularly maintained and monitored for production.