ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge

Wildlife abounds in this Lowcountry sanctuary.

The Grove Plantation House
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge is home to a vast array of waterfowl, fish, shellfish and many other animals. It is also the home of Oak Grove Plantation House. Since 1992, the former rice plantation has been under the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge

According to the Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge’s website:

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge helps protect the largest undeveloped estuary along the Atlantic Coast, with rich bottomland hardwoods and fresh and saltwater marsh offering food and cover to a variety of wildlife.  ACE Basin stands for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers, which form the estuary and parts of the Refuge boundary. The entire basin encompasses more than 350,000 acres, of which the Refuge comprises just less than 12,000 acres.

wood stork

Part of the historical values of the ACE Basin were also protected. The refuge office, a former rice plantation house built in 1828, is one of a few antebellum mansions that survived the civil war in the ACE Basin area. Former owners ensured it would be preserved by placing it on the National Register of Historical Places. Undeveloped and unpolluted, the habitat remains diverse and extremely productive.

oak grove plantation house exterior
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Oak Grove Plantation House

The Oak Grove Plantation House is a fine example of late-Federal plantation-style architecture. It has polygonal rooms and projecting symmetrical bays. The elliptical fanlight over the front entry, double-hung windows, clapboard siding, and overall symmetry are all examples of this architectural style.

From the early 1700s to the mid-1800s, the plantation grew rice, producing much wealth. After the rice culture declined in the late 1800s, the plantation and many others in the area were used as hunting retreats. The area was tended wisely to preserve and protect the wildlife.

former rice fields at the refuge
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

A walk behind the house leads visitors to the former rice fields. Rows, dikes, trunks, and gates are still visible today. The paths are marked and meander around the rice fields and through wooded areas. Make sure to bring your camera and be on the lookout for wildlife.

rice trunk
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Rice Trunks

This is one of many rice trunks still in use today. Irrigation of rice fields was completed using great ingenuity to raise and lower water levels in the fields.

According to the South Carolina Encyclopedia:

The rice trunk was an ingenious, yet simple apparatus that made large-scale planting and irrigation control possible in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Rice trunks are wooden sluices installed in “banks” or dikes of rice fields for irrigation or flood control. They are long, narrow, wooden boxes made of thick planks, and each has a door at each end. Hung on uprights, the swinging doors, called gates, may be raised or lowered to drain or flood a field. When the gate on the river end of a trunk is raised, the water in the field runs into the river at low tide. As the tide turns, the rising water exerts pressure on the river gate and swings it tightly shut, preventing water from returning to the field. To flood the field, the process is reversed.

Rice, a particularly labor-intensive crop, was dependent on slaves for its cultivation. Following Emancipation, the rice industry collapsed.

marsh at the refuge
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin has long been known for its tremendous diversity of wildlife. The intricate network of marshes, tidal creeks, uplands, and wetlands has supported a myriad of plants and animals. The ACE Basin has long been home to a vast array of waterfowl, songbirds, fish, shellfish, and upland animals. Alligators, wood storks, bobcats, deer, and other animals live in the diverse habitats of the refuge.

view of a path in the refuge
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The refuge grounds are open daily, from sunrise to sunset.  The Administration Office is generally open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Brochures and maps are located on the ground floor of the Plantation House.

For more information on the Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge visit their WEBSITE.

For more information on what to do in the Edisto Island area visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/edisto-beach/ or day trip information visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/edisto-day-trips/ .

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The Lowcountry & Resort Islands Region of South Carolina includes the four, southern-most counties in the state, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton, which are bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.

simplysoutherncottage keeps us in awe with each her projects. This bed swing refresh is one of our favorites!
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The shore gently recedes beneath the stunning Pawleys Island Pier. The unique island town, located about 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 70 miles north of Charleston, exudes laid-back, beachy vibes. Locals have definitely adopted an island state of mind and encourage visitors to as well. When you go, make sure to relax on the beach, explore the famous sand dunes, or fish in one of the many adjacent creeks.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: We guarantee that you’re going to want to spend a whole day here. We recommend getting to the beach at around 10am.🗓️ Best time of the year: Pawleys Island has the best weather during the spring and early summer months.🏖️ Things to do while there: Pawleys Island Nature Park, Pawleys Island Chapel, Hopsewee Plantation.🐠 Things to visit in the area: Brookgreen Gardens (brookgreen_gardens), take a walking ghost tour, Myrtle Beach (mymyrtlebeach), Harborwalk Marina, South Carolina Maritime Museum (southcarolinamaritimemuseum).🏨 Where to stay: The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn (oceanfrontlitchfieldinn), Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort (litchfieldbeachandgolf), Sea View Inn (seaviewinn), 620 Prince (620prince).Photo by qcphotographer
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Headed down the road....Edisto Island.  #edisto #sclowcountry #trees #endofday  #beauty #islandsofsc
Spanish moss drapes the live oak trees that are ubiquitous to the Edisto Island area. Did you know that Edisto gets its name from the native Edistow people? The Edistow Native Americans were a sub tribe of the Cusabo indians, a group of Native Americans who lived along the Atlantic coast in South Carolina.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: Stop by mid-morning. That way you can explore the island, grab lunch, and stay for the amazing sunset if you choose.🏖️ Things to do while there: Edisto Environmental Learning Center, Boneyard Beach, Scott Creek Inlet, Big Bay Creek, SeaCow Eatery.☀️ Things to visit in the area: Jungle Road Park, Bay Creek Park, Otter Islands, Spanish Mount Point.📆 Best time of the year to visit: For warmer weather come anywhere from March-August.🏨 Where to stay: Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort (frippislandrsrt), Seabrook Island Club (seabrook_sc), The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (kiawahresort), Charleston Kiawah Island/Andell Inn (andellinn).Photo by qcphotographer
Discover at your own leisure at the coastaldiscoverymuseum 🌳  From century-old buildings with storied pasts, to wooden boardwalks that stretch into the Jarvis Creek salt marsh, there's always something to explore!
Reposted from coastaldiscoverymuseum Hilton Head Island has the second highest tidal range on the East Coast, second only to Canada’s Bay of Fundy. The average tidal range here is 7-9 feet between high and low tides.The Salt Marsh is one of our area’s most prominent features, not to mention an essential resource. Most coastal creatures depend partially or even fully on the Salt Marsh for survival as it serves as a nursery, as well as a water filter vital for the functioning of the entire coastal ecosystem.Explore the Lowcountry up close with a visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum and head out into the marsh via the Osprey Outlook floating dock on a self-guided tour or register for the weekly Salt Marsh Discovery program to learn from an expert how and why this particular environment is so important. (843) 689-6767 ext. 223 or coastaldiscovery.org.
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A visitor takes a leisurely stroke under a canopy of live oaks draped with Spanish moss in the Palmetto Bluff (palmettobluff) neighborhood of Bluffton, South Carolina. Palmetto Bluff is a picturesque community that sits in the heart of Lowcountry. Nestled along the May River, it’s abundant with beautiful walking trails, historic sites, and stunning views.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: There is no wrong time to visit Palmetto Bluff. However, we highly recommend sticking around for one of their spectacular sunsets.🛶 Things to do while there: Stop by Cole’s for some regionally inspired Southern fare, paddle board, kayak, or canoe along the May River, go saltwater fishing, take a tour at Bluffton Jack's Old Town Tours.🌊 Things to visit in the area: Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, Old Town Bluffton, Bluffton Oyster Factory Park, May River Sandbar, Heyward House Museum and Welcome Center (heywardhouse).📆 Best time of the year to visit: For the best weather, we recommend visiting between March and May or from September to November.🏨 Where to stay: The Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort (montagepalmettobluff) is the only resort in Palmetto Bluff. However, there are plenty of places to stay in the surrounding areas including: Old Town Bluffton Inn (oldtownblufftoninn), The Inn & Club at Harbour Town (theinnandclubatharbourtown), Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island (sonestahhi).Photo by jpgriceoz
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The seed has been planted…going to be a long couple of weeks….#scducks #ducks #duckhunting #moistsoil #moistsoilmanagement #redriderbbgun #sclowcountry #savannah #beaufort #charlestonsc #goldenisles #ducksunlimited
It’s my last week in the Lowcountry. I will be incredibly happy to be back home, but I will sure miss these views. ☀️🌴[Image Description: a photo of a sun setting over the Lowcountry wetlands. The cloud in the sky are reflected on the water below.]
I'm wringing this chamois for all its worth. The diversity of subjects at this place is endless.#ilfordfp4 #lowcountryphotographer #southernconversations #sclowcountry #lowcountryscenes #saltmarsh #bnwmood #mediumformatfilm #silvervisionfilm
Need a project this weekend? Add a splash of color and touch of gardening to your porch decor. Don’t have a green thumb? Not to worry.⠀
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Riding into the weekend like...Isn't this live oak tree tunnel beautiful? Live oak, draped in Spanish moss, is emblematic of South Carolina and many of the Southern states. We love these iconic trees, not only for their beauty, but their history as well. The average lifespan of a live oak is 300 years!Photo by qcphotographer
The tickets for our Decoration Day Gullah Campfire Supper with Stories and Songs are available now through our website, link in bio.We are Hipcamp hosts.  You can attend the event and stay over, extra spaces will be made available.  Contact us for more information.  Our Hipcamp listing name is Friendly Fowl Farm.This event will celebrate the United States Colored Troops in the Beaufort area and the establishment of the Grand Army Union Post and the Hall, it’s members and their mission.The guest speaker for this year is Rev. Dr. Elijah Washington, the current Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic whose historic hall is located at 706 Newcastle Street, Beaufort.Built in 1896, this meeting hall for the post is believed to be the only surviving building in South Carolina associated with the Grand Army of the Republic. The post hosted annual Decoration Day services at Beaufort National Cemetery and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War continue that tradition. It is included in the Beaufort Historic District.
If you have period clothing please join your hosts amjones42 Tony and orbgtennis Belinda and dress the part.  Re-enactors are welcome.#decorationday #memorialday #unitedstatescoloredtroops #ushistory #history #travelandleisure #farmtotable #camping #unionarmy #uscoloredinfantry #historymakers #travelandlearn #gullah #gullahgeechee #blackhistory #grandarmyoftherepublic #grandarmyoftherepublic #robertsmalls #civilwarhistory #civilwarreenactment #sclowcountry #discoversc #campinglife #explore #getoutside #hipcamp #historicbeaufort
The magic of the season has begun in our SC Lowcountry. Come see!#thatsmylowcountry #naturallyamazing #sclowcountry #beaufortcountysc #colletoncountysc #hamptoncountysc #jaspercountysc #tistheseason #holidayseason
“Beaufort River Sunset”
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The South Carolina Lowcountry Guidebook is filled with many things to see and do in the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina. Please fill out the information and we will send you a FREE GUIDE BOOK.


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