Established in 1990, the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is part of the federal system of refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge represents the federal role in the larger ACE Basin Project with two units, one on the Combahee River and the other on the Edisto River.
The headquarters for the NWR is located at the Grove, a rice plantation begun in 1825 on the Edisto River. The plantation house dates from 1828 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Nature Conservancy purchased the Grove in 1991 and sold it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the following year.
With a total of nearly twelve thousand acres, the ACE Basin NWR is managed for wildlife with careful attention given to habitat preservation. The estuary is home to a wide variety of birds, fish, and game, including such endangered and threatened species as wood storks, osprey, bald eagles, and shortnose sturgeon. Limited public fishing and hunting for deer and waterfowl are permitted. With the completion of additional purchases, the future size of the refuge may reach eighteen thousand acres.
The refuge contains canals and dikes from the days when the land was home to large rice plantations. Through control of water levels, the former rice fields are used to encourage habitats for waterfowl and other bird species. Additionally, the NWR uses controlled burning as a tool for creating and maintaining habitat for turkey, quail, and songbirds.
Blagden, Tom. South Carolina’s Wetland Wilderness: The ACE Basin. Englewood, Colo.: Westcliffe, 1992.
Linder, Suzanne Cameron. Historical Atlas of the Rice Plantations of the ACE River Basin–1860. Columbia: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1995.