Savannah NWR management for migratory birds explained at Audubon club meeting

December 27, 2013 

Ringed-necked ducks prepare to take off to a new location.

JEFF KIDD — Staff photo Buy Photo

The Hilton Head Audubon Society will present "Managing Savannah National Wildlife Refuge for Migrating Birds" at 3 p.m. Jan. 9 at Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn on the island.

The presentation to the Hilton Head Audubon Society also is open to non-members. It is free, and no registration is required.

The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary for about 22 species of migratory waterfowl that winter in coastal South Carolina, according to an Audubon society news release. Three-thousand acres of former plantation rice fields are now managed by a series of water-control structures, effectively serving as impoundments to provide feeding areas and sanctuary for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and other wildlife. The rich habitat the refuge provides is a result of careful management of this freshwater system. Prescribed fire and mechanical and chemical treatments are used to manipulate plant successional stages and regulate undesirable and noxious plants, according to the release.

However, the primary means of management of this system is dependable water-level control using rice-field trunks and stop-log structures, as well as the 9-mile freshwater diversion canal. The speaker will be refuge manager Russ Webb, was first employed by the refuge in 1989 and serves as the Refuge Manager for Savannah, Pinckney Island, Tybee, and Wassaw NWRs. Information: Contact Coastal Discovery Museum at 843-689-6767, or go to

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