U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   Vicki M. Boatwright or

May 12, 1995                            Diana M. Hawkins



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun a planning effort to assess the suitability of establishing a new national wildlife refuge in the vicinity of the Great Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers in Georgetown, Horry, and Marion counties, South Carolina. The study area for the proposed refuge includes approximately 42,000 acres of wetlands and upland forests between the Intracoastal Waterway and U.S. Highway 701 north of Winyah Bay.

The boundaries of the proposed refuge have not been determined. The specific location will be based on availability of land, fish and wildlife ecosystem needs, and public comments on the suitability of the proposal. The Service is working to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the refuge proposal and will hold two scoping meetings in the local area to seek public participation in preparing the EIS. The public is invited to attend either of these scoping meetings, which will be held at the following times and locations:

The planning effort is being supported by the Winyah Bay Focus Area Task Force, a grassroots-based organization consisting of officials from Ducks Unlimited, the Historic Ricefields Association, Brookgreen Gardens, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, International Paper Company, South Carolina Waterfowl Association, private landowners, and others.

The purpose of the proposed refuge is to protect and manage an important component of the Winyah Bay ecosystem for the benefit of endangered and threatened species, migratory birds, wading birds, anadromous fish, and forest wildlife. The study area contains the largest contiguous block of freshwater tidal wetlands in South Carolina. It provides some of the most valuable production and wintering habitat for wood ducks in the state and is recognized as a key emphasis area in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Its associated upland forests provide vital habitat for many species of other wildlife, including the bald eagle, red-cockaded woodpecker, and wood stork -- all federally listed endangered species. Another endangered species, the shortnose sturgeon, inhabits the area's rivers and waterways.

Additional information on the refuge proposal is available through a fact sheet published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Persons interested in participating in the scoping meetings or receiving copies of the fact sheet and future updates should write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Branch of Project Development, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345, or call 1-800-419-9582.

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1995 News Releases

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