Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge

The Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is a 66,287 acre (267 km²) National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern South Carolina near Awendaw on South Carolina’s only cape, Cape Romain. 29,000 acres (120 km2) are designated as Class I Wilderness. The refuge’s headquarters and visitor center are located on US Highway 17 about 30 minutes by car from Charleston, South Carolina.

Established in 1932 as a haven for migratory birds, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is additionally managed for the protection of threatened and endangered species such as the loggerhead sea turtle, wood stork, and piping plover. Every year loggerhead sea turtles bury their eggs on three of the refuge’s barrier islands. The refuge supports approximately 23% of the northern subpopulation of loggerhead sea turtles, the largest north of Florida. For the past 30 years refuge employees have helped loggerhead turtles survive by identifying nests that are in areas subject to overwash and inundation, and moving them to a safer area on the island.

In years past, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge was the site of three lighthouses. Bulls Bay Light was located on Bulls Island, a 4,900 acres (20 km2) barrier island that is the largest of the many barrier islands that are part of the refuge. Regular ferry service to Bulls Island is provided by a private charter service at Garris Landing. Although Bulls Bay Light was lost to the sea years ago, two historic lighthouses still remain on the refuge, both on Lighthouse Island. The Cape Romain Lighthouses are on the National Register of Historic Places.

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