Due to its location, the refuge is home to a variety of plants, animals, and habitat types characteristic of both the Atlantic coastal plain and the Piedmont Plateau. The rolling sandhills and deep sandy soils are remnants of an ancient coastal shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean.

Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939, when the federal government acquired land under the provisions of the Resettlement Act. The 45,348-acre refuge in Chesterfield County 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 regions. The rolling sandhills and deep sandy soils are remnants of an ancient coastal shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean.

Among the diverse group of fauna and flora that exist in the Carolina Sandhills are several species that are listed as threatened or endangered. These include the pine barrens treefrog, sandhills chub, white wicky, and Well’s pixie-moss. Also included in this group is the red-cockaded woodpecker. The refuge supports more than one hundred groups of these cooperative breeders, giving it the largest population of red-cockaded woodpeckers in the National Wildlife Refuge System. This bird requires mature pines, often those averaging seventy-five to ninety-five years old, to create nesting cavities and extensive pine forests to meet its foraging requirements.

Among the many management activities that take place in the refuge, prescribed burning is the most beneficial to wildlife and habitat. This practice reduces wildfire hazards through fuel reduction and maintains and restores the habitat for threatened plant species and many animal species such as turkey, quail, deer, and the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Public-use opportunities include nine miles of paved drive for visitors, three nature trails, two observation towers, a photography blind, and a recreational area. Several ponds and lakes are open to fishing, and limited hunting is permitted for several species. Interpretive displays and literature can be found at the refuge office and the main entrances.

United States. Department of the Interior. Fish and Wildlife Service. Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2002.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge
  • Author Gregory Z. Boling
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/carolina-sandhills-national-wildlife-refuge/
  • Access Date January 23, 2020
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date April 15, 2016
  • Date of Last Update May 18, 2016