Important Bird Areas

Francis Marion National Forest

South Carolina

Located in Charleston and Berkeley Counties, the Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF) stretches from Lake Moultrie on the west to Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in the east. The Santee River forms the northern boundary. US Hwys. 17 and 17 Alt. as well as SC Hwys. 45, 41, and 402 run through the NF.
Large tracts of fire maintained longleaf and loblolly pine forests and open woodlands are interspersed with forested wetlands, Carolina bays, pocosins, cypress swamp and open wet savannahs.

Ornithological Summary

The Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF) is ornithologically significant because it holds the northern-most concentration (50 pairs)of breeding Swallow-tailed Kites, a WatchListed species. Due to the well-managed old-growth longleaf pine habitat it is host to resident federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, approximately 350 breeding groups, one of the largest populations in the world. Several pairs of Bald Eagles nest in the forest and federally endangered Wood Storks forage here. Other longleaf pine species, which are also Watchlisted, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman's Sparrow are abundant in the NF. Painted Buntings and Swainson's Warblers breed here.Approximately 100 pairs of state-listed Southeastern Kestrels nest here. Probably the largest concentration of the state-listed Wayne's race of the Black-throated Green Warbler are also nesters.The managed Tibwin Wetland Complex consistently has the highest winter hawk migration along the southeastern coast.

Conservation Issues

The Francis Marion NF (FMNF), although large in size, is located in one of the fastest growing areas of the state. Commercial and residential development surrounding the forest, as well as in some in-holdings, could have negative iimpacts on wildlife and management capabilities. Currently one of the biggest threats is the limited ability to conduct and maintain prescribed burning for the management of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (RCWs), chaffseed and other wildlife and plant communities. Post-Hurricane Hugo challenges include residual fuels, which exacerbate smoke management problems and loss of large-sized cavity trees for the RCWs.

Ownership

Francis Marion National Forest is owned and operated by the USDA.

Habitat

Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF) is primarily coniferous woods, consisting of longleaf and loblolly pines. Open pine savannahs and bald-cypress-tupelo gum swamps are next in prevelance. Bottomland hardwood forest, shrub/scrub (pocossin), southern mixed hardwood forest, deciduous woods, maritime forest and grasslands, in descending order of presence, comprise the rest of FMNF.

Land Use

Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF) is a multiple use forest. Silviculture as well as managed longleaf and loblolly pine habitats, with prescribed burning, are logged on a rotating year basis. A large area of the forest is managed for the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, one of the largest populations in the world. Much of the forest is set aside/managed for wildlife conservation. Hunting is allowed in season and there is a shooting range. Many bird watchers take advantage of the numerous species of birds found in the forest. Biking, hiking and ATV take advantage of the many trails and roads.

×