Since 2009, American Rivers has worked tirelessly protect the Waccamaw River. We’ve partnered with numerous organizations across North Carolina and South Carolina to provide greater access to the river and its recreation opportunities through the Waccamaw River Blue Trail. Much of the Trail flows through the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, a 55,000-acre stretch of critical riverside lands set aside to protect important wildlife like the swallowed-tailed kite, coastal black bear, the red-cockaded woodpecker, and a wide variety of rare plants.
The Refuge allows countless photographers, kayakers, fishers, and hikers, history enthusiasts, birders, and naturalists to enjoy the beauty of the Waccamaw. In addition to providing unmatched opportunities for recreation that benefit the regional economy, riverside lands assure clean drinking water for local communities and reduce flooding to homes and businesses caused by increased hurricane and extreme rainfall events. American Rivers and our partners have been at the forefront of efforts to promote all of the benefits the river provides to both people and wildlife by supporting Refuge.
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a proposal to change the boundary of the Refuge. The minor boundary modification will support the Refuge’s mission to promote the health of the river, its surrounding forests and the many benefits they provide for wildlife and communities.
It will remove 6,849 acres of land from the Refuge which no longer provide proper wildlife habitat due to local activities that have permanently changed the landscape. These areas are shown in red on the map. The current boundary will be changed so that 6,638 new acres, shown in yellow, will be added to the Refuge through the purchase of properties from willing landowners. These additional lands harbor critical habitat that will help local wildlife withstand the effects of climate change, improve public access to the river, enhance recreational opportunities, and support clean drinking water and flood protection.
The Waccamaw River is a lifeline for North Carolina and South Carolina, and is critical to the region’s economy, environment, lifestyle, and health of local communities. With a changing climate, growing population, and competing needs for water, protecting the Waccamaw River and its surrounding lands is more important than ever. The minor boundary modification is an opportunity to improve the resilience of local wildlife, provide additional opportunities for recreation for residents and visitors, and safeguard the wellbeing of communities along the Waccamaw River.
I encourage you to act now! We only have 30 days to voice our support for the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge minor boundary modification. Take a moment to let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know that you support the boundary modification and want to protect the Waccamaw River.