Important Bird Areas

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge

South Carolina

The Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a 20 mile segment of the Atlantic coast and includes barrier islands, salt marshes, coastal waterway, beaches, fresh and brackish water impoundments, and maritime forest. The webiste is http://www.fws.gov/caperomain/index.html

Ornithological Summary

The Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1932 as a migratory bird refuge. Since its establishment, it has been resting and feeding grounds for migratory birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. It is also an important area for colonially nesting seabirds such as Brown Pelicans, tern species, and Black Skimmers. Cape Romain is the center of American Oystercatcher wintering on the east coast. It has the largest wintering concentration of American Oystercatchers on the east coast. To date 337 species of birds have been recorded on the refuge.
Cape Romain NWR has been designated a Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve of International Importance. It is one of the most important sites in SC for nesting Gull-billed Terns and Black Skimmers, WatchListed species. In 2004 Gull-billed Tern nesting pairs in CRNWR was 47% of the SC total of nesting pairs. In 2005 total Black Skimmer nesting pairs was 69% of the state total.
In 2007 an average number of 7413 shorebirds per day were present.

Conservation Issues

Erosion is a problem on all the refuge beaches, but especially on Cape Island where it is necessary to transplant loggerhead sea turtle nests to prevent them from being washed away by the tide. Since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, the exotic Chinese tallow tree (popcorn tree Sapidum sebiferum) has become a pest on Bull's Island. Although the Refuge is protected from development, an increase in development surrounding the refuge could cause water pollution problems in the future. Public use activities in the summer and fall months, jet skis, boating and recreational shrimping, are a growing problem.

Ownership

The Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is owned by the Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Habitat

Marine tidal wetlands comprise the largest habitat type. Marine open water is the second largest habitat composed of creeks, bays and ponds. The maritime forest is in a successional stage on Bull's Island, dominated by cabbage palmetto, shrubs and annuals. Large live oaks and young loblolly pines are abundant.

Land Use

The greatest percentage of land use in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is conservation for the refuge. This includes a vast wilderness area of salt marsh that includes Cape Island. There is a very small amount of hunting allowed on Bull's Island as a means of controlling the deer population. Ecotourism also accounts for a small percentage of the land use mostly through a ferry service provided at a fee to Bull's Island. Commercial shellfish harvesting is common in the creeks of the Refuge under lease from the state. Recreational shellfish harvesting for shrimp is popular inb Bull's Bay during the fall.

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