Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Refuge Quick Facts

Jane Griess - Project Leader
Russ Webb - Refuge Manager
Peter Range - Refuge Ranger

  • Established: 1969
  • Acres: 10,053
  • Location: The refuge is located 14 miles southeast of the city of Savannah and is accessible only by boat.  The refuge is bordered by the Wilmington River and Wassaw Sound on the north, the Vernon River and Ossabaw Sound on the south, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east.  Salt marsh and tidal creeks separate the refuge from the mainland and Skidaway Island to the west.
  • The refuge consists of a single barrier island (Wassaw), tidal salt marsh, two smaller islands (collectively known as Little Wassaw Island) and several small hammocks.  With approximately 25 miles of boundary or shoreline, the refuge is comprised of 76% salt marsh and 24% beach dune and upland forest and upland forest communities, roads, trails, and administrative land.
  • Seven miles of undeveloped beach provides nesting habitat for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle.  Numerous species of shorebirds visit this spectacular beach.  The bald eagle nests annually on one of the outlying hammocks and the endangered wood stork can be found feeding in the tidal marshes and waters of the refuge.

Financial Impact of the Refuge

  • Wassaw NWR is part of a seven-refuge complex that has an annual budget of $2.9 million
    (FY 14) and a combined staff of 29.
  • The refuge attracts over 20,000 visitors each year.

Refuge Objectives

  • Maintain and protect the coastal maritime forest, marsh and beach communities.
  • Provide habitat for migratory birds, wading and shorebirds and native fauna.
  • Provide habitat for endangered and threatened loggerhead sea turtles, wood storks, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and piping plovers.
  • Provide recreation and environmental education for the public.

Management Tools

  • Prescribed fire and wildfire suppression
  • Sea turtle nest monitoring
  • Managed white-tailed deer hunts.
  • Exotic species control.
  • Law enforcement.
  • Education/Interpretation

Public Use Opportunities

  • Trails
  • Bicycling
  • Saltwater fishing
  • Hunting (specific dates only)
  • Sea kayaking
  • Wildlife observation and photography
  • Daytime beach use


Last updated: May 14, 2015