National Wildlife Refuges
Region 4 includes Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina refuges.
Big Lake NWR Wilderness Area - (AR)
Northeast Arkansas Refuges
Approximately 2,100 acres of the 11,038-acre Big Lake NWR were designated as wilderness area in 1976. The habitat within the wilderness area consists of timbered swamplands and bottomland hardwoods. Towering stands of cypress dominate the overstory with a mixture of green ash, hackberry, cottonwood, box elder, and some scattered oak species. The area is utilized by waterfowl during high water and provides habitat for resident species such as white-tailed deer, raccoon, and beaver. The endangered southern bald eagle and osprey have successfully nested immediately adjacent to the Wilderness Area.
Chassohowitzka Wilderness Area - (FL)
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
The 23,629-acre Chassahowitzka Wilderness Area is situated in Citrus and Hernando Counties. Inhabitants include species that are classified as endangered/threatened: West Indian manatee, wood stork, American alligator, Indigo snake, bald eagle, and peregrine falcon.
Passage Key Wilderness Area - (FL)
Passage National Wildlife Refuge
The Passage Key Wilderness Area is a 55-acre island located in Tampa Bay. The refuge was established as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds. Passage Key continues to be an important nesting site for shorebirds, gulls, terns, and allied species. It remains one of the last undisturbed nesting areas for these birds in Tampa Bay. The Royal Tern nesting colony on the key may be the largest in Florida. Passage Key is also an important loafing and nesting site for brown pelicans. The island acts as a loafing/feeding site for migrating and wintering shorebirds and other migratory coastal avian species.
Lake Woodruff Wilderness Area - (FL)
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge
This 1,066-acre area is located within the Lake Woodruff NWR in central Florida. The two bodies of land that make up the wilderness area are St. Francis Island (280.24 acres) and Dexter Island (785.76 acres). Water-tolerant trees cover the low-lying islands. Unique wildlife includes alligators, bald eagles, herons, egrets, ibis, and limpkins. Allowed uses include hiking, birdwatching, and managed hunts for deer (both archery and muzzleloader).
Florida Keys Wilderness Area - (FL)
National Key Deer Refuge
The Florida Keys Wilderness is comprised of 6,170 acres of pristine pineland, mangrove, and hammock habitats in the subtropical setting of the Lower Florida Keys. Virtually all of the designated wilderness areas are on islands and are therefore accessible only by boat. Wilderness lands are found on three refuges: Key West NWR (2,019 acres), Great White Heron NWR (1,900 acres), and National Key Deer Refuge (2,251 acres). Most of the islands support a fringe of red, white, and black mangrove. Larger islands with a year-round supply of freshwater support pine rockland habitat and the endangered Key Deer. At higher elevations tropical hardwood hammock vegetation is present. This vegetation is primarily West Indian in origin.
J.N. "Ding" Darling Wilderness Area - (FL)
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
This 2,619-acre area lies within the boundaries of the main tract of the J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR on Sanibel Island off the southwest coat of Florida. The habitat consists of low-lying mangrove islands interspersed with meandering tidal creeks and shallow open water bays. Several endangered species inhabit this area, including peregrine falcons, bald eagles, American crocodile, wood storks, and manatees. The dominant types of vegetation are the red, white, and black mangrove trees. Gumbo limbo trees, cabbage palms, palmettos, sea grape, buttonwood trees, and many vines and shrubs are found on the ridges and upper elevations three feet or more above sea level. Various sea grasses are found throughout the shallow water bays such as manatee grass, shoal grass, and turtle grass. The shallow water bays also provide excellent feeding grounds for many thousands of wading and water birds during the low tides. The mangroves and forested areas of the ridges provide food and cover for many neotropical migrants during the fall and spring migration.
Pelican Island Wilderness Area - (FL)
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
This three-acre island is located within the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in the Indian River Lagoon of east central Florida. The habitat consists of a sandy island with a 50 percent covering of red and black mangroves, spartina, and prickley pear cactus and 50 percent bare ground. It is a major rookery for brown pelicans and endangered wood storks. Other species that nest on the island include great egrets, snowy egrets, cattle egrets, and reddish egrets; great blue herons, little blue herons, tri-colored herons, and green-backed herons; black-crowned night herons; white ibis; double crested cormorants; and American oystercatchers. Other species that roost, loaf, winter, or forage on the island include white pelicans, anhingas, roseate spoonbills, magnificent frigatebirds, and several species of terns, gulls, and shorebirds. There are no public uses allowed on the island.
St. Marks Wilderness Area - (FL)
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
The 17,746-acre wilderness area is located within the St. Marks NWR in the coast big bend section of Florida. This wilderness habitat consists of pinelands, mixed pine/hardwoods, fresh/brackish marsh, and coastal salt marsh. The coastal marsh, which is dominated by needlerush (Juncas), is the dominant vegetative feature. Unique wildlife species inhabiting this wilderness area include nesting southern bald eagles, nesting ospreys, and Florida black bear. Unique plant features are the pine/cedar dominated marsh islands.
Okefenokee Wilderness Area - (GA)
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
The 353,981-acre Class I Okefenokee Wilderness area lies within the designated 395,858-acre Okefenokee NWR. The primary purpose of the refuge is to protect the unique wetland ecological system of the Okefenokee Swamp. The wilderness area includes open water marshland known locally as "prairies," cypress forest, vast acreage of "shrub-scrub" composed of intermediate height shrubs, bushes and vines, and upland islands forested in pine with a palmetto/gallberry understory. Public use of the wilderness area is permitted along 120 miles of boat trail. Typical uses include fishing, motorboating (10hp limitation), day-use canoeing, and overnight wilderness canoeing. Refuge visitation is currently topping 400,000 visitors annually, half of which occurs at the main headquarters entrance on the east side of the refuge throughout the coast marsh. Hiking is the only permitted use of this area.
Blackbeard Island Wilderness Area - (GA)
Savannah Coastal Refuges
This 3,000-acre area, established in 1975, is located within Blackbeard Island NWR. The refuge is one of the oldest in the country, having been in continuous federal ownership since 1800, placed under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Biological Survey in 1924, and designated as a National Wildlife Refuge by Presidential Proclamation in 1940. Blackbeard Island was named for Edward Teach, alias Blackbeard the Pirate. Within the wilderness area habitat types include 2,470 acres of salt marsh and tidal creeks, 50 acres of sand beach, and a 450-acre Research Natural Area of live oak/slash pine forest, including a few acres of virgin slash pine. Endangered/threatened species include the wood stork, loggerhead sea turtle, piping plover, peregrine falcon, American alligator, West Indian manatee, and bald eagle. Allowed uses include hiking, hunting (six days of archery deer season), wildlife observation, salt water fishing, and bicycle riding.
Wolf Island Wilderness Area - (GA)
Savannah Coastal Refuges
All of Wolf Island NWR (5,126 acres) was established as an wilderness area in 1975. It is composed of Wolf Island (4,519 acres), Egg Island (593 acres), and Little Egg Island (14 acres). Habitat types consist of salt marsh and tidal creeks (4,626 acres), dominated by sea oats, sandspurs, cedar, greenbriar, blackberry, and a few live oak and slash pine. Endangered/threatened species include the wood stork, loggerhead sea turtle, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, West Indian manatee, and piping plover. Allowed uses include salt water fishing and crabbing. Refuge lands are closed to public use.
Lacassine Wilderness Area - (LA)
Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge
This 3,346-acre area is located within the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Louisiana. The habitat consists of freshwater marsh characterized by dense, emergent growths of maidencane and bull tongue interspersed with deeper open-water ponds and a few natural ridges covered with willows and Chinese tallow trees. Wildlife using the area includes American alligators, white-tailed deer, and a variety of waterfowl, wading birds, and other marsh birds. Allowed uses include non-motorized boating, fishing, archery deer hunting, and waterfowl hunting.
Breton Wilderness Area - (LA)
Southeast Louisiana Refuges
Established in 1904, Breton National Wildlife Refuge is the second oldest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Breton NWR is managed primarily as a sanctuary for nesting and wintering seabirds. Brown pelicans, peregrine falcons, and sea turtles are some of the endangered species known to frequent the refuge. About 5,000 acres of the refuge are designated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Another approximately 2,000 acres is comprised of non-wilderness State-owned islands and gas facilities on Federal land, all managed as part of the refuge. The refuge objectives of Breton NWR are to: 1) Protect and preserve the wilderness character of the islands, and 2) Provide sandy barrier beach habitat for a variety of wildlife species.
Mattamuskeet Wilderness Area - (NC)
Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
This 8,785-acre area is located within the Swanquarter NWR in northeastern North Carolina. The habitat is mainly irregularly flooded brackish marsh islands dominated by black needlerush and saltmarsh cordgrass. Allowed uses include fishing, waterfowl hunting, and wildlife observation.
Cape Romain Wilderness Area - (SC)
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
This 29,000-acre area is located within the Cape Romain NWR, which can be found 17 miles north of Charleston, South Carolina. The habitat consists of sea islands, salt marshes, intricate coastal waterways, long sandy beaches, and forest lands. Unique wildlife includes loggerhead sea turtles, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, red wolves, and American alligators. Only one unique plant exists, the seabeach amaranth. Allowed uses include fresh and saltwater fishing, birdwatching, nature study, hiking, and hunting for white-tailed deer. Commercial harvesting of oysters, clams, and blue crabs are allowed in State controlled waters.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication