Santee National Wildlife Refuge

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Project Titles:

  • Rehabilitate Earthen Roads (FFS #R4BH, R4BJ)
  • Restore Water Delivery Canals and Dikes (FFS #R4MM)
  • Restore Wetland (FFS #R4MH)
  • Rehabilitate Pumping Station (FFS #R4BG)

State: South Carolina

Initial Project Description: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, the Service) will use approximately $1.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, Recovery Act) funds toward the restoration of major wetlands and road repairs at Santee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in South Carolina.

According to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, “These stimulus-funded improvements will provide needed construction jobs in the area and help boost the region’s economy. In addition, the public, including duck hunters, will see the benefits of better roads and better wildlife management.”

The Service awarded a $724,377 contract to Ducks Unlimited to conduct improvements to the refuge’s impoundment system that will help refuge employees better manage waterfowl and wetland wildlife communities.

Refuge staff worked with Ducks Unlimited to help design the extensive wetland habitat rehabilitation projects.

According to Refuge Manager, Marc Epstein, “This joint venture with Ducks Unlimited brings a second element of wetland management expertise and engineering to the Santee [NWR]. There is a whole community of wildlife that is enhanced when we restore these wetlands.”

“Ducks Unlimited is happy to work with the [the Service] on ARRA projects like this one, because it is a win-win-win situation,” said Dr. Scott C. Yaich, Director of Conservation Operations for Ducks Unlimited. “First, [FWS is using] these ARRA funds to address the longstanding backlog of management needs on national wildlife refuges, and studies have documented that refuges are significant economic generators for local communities across the country. Second, these projects contribute significantly to meeting the conservation needs of waterfowl and many other wildlife species. And finally, this project puts people to work and directly benefits the local economy, just as ARRA intended. As in all Ducks Unlimited projects, our organization is committed to using local workers and companies as much as possible.”

On the refuge’s Cuddo Unit, habitat restoration and improvements included rebuilding 7,419 feet of new dikes, and rehabilitating 6,469 feet of existing perimeter dike on the 125-acre Timber Island Field. The project also included installing new water control structures to enhance water delivery and management in the restored wetland complex. This project allows the refuge employees to more effectively manage the impoundments and adjacent greentree reservoirs for migratory bird populations. Additionally, a pumping system and engine were replaced to allow proper drainage of the impoundment and reservoir complex.

The refuge’s Bluff Unit is the most heavily used waterfowl area on the refuge. This unit consists of three primary wetland impoundments. The ARRA project will create a fourth impoundment and fund the purchase of a mobile pump to help service this system. In concert with the ARRA projects on the Bluff Unit, the Santee NWR staff have cleared water delivery and drainage to these systems and installed six new water control structures.

Now that these projects are completed, the refuge will be able to provide improved habitat conditions for numerous species of waterfowl, migratory birds, and other wetland wildlife that utilize the refuge as a wintering area, a stop-over point, or summer nesting grounds. In turn, visitors will have increased opportunities to view these migratory birds undisturbed in their native landscape.

In addition to the habitat restoration projects, the Service awarded a $1,105,742 contract to Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, Inc. of Alpharetta, Georgia, for repairs to public roads in the refuge.

Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, Inc. will repair roads in the Cuddo and Pine Island units. The company will resurface the badly eroded roads and enhance drainage. Hunters use the roads during hunting season, and the general public, including cyclists and hikers, also use the roads for general public access.

October 2011 Project Update: Ducks Unlimited contracted with local contractors to assist with the restoration of the Cuddo Unit and Bluff Unit wetlands at Santee NWR. Ducks Unlimited completed the project in April 2011.

According to Epstein, “These projects, along with the enhancements conducted by the Refuge in the past few years, mark a significant improvement in the interior waterfowl and wetland wildlife habitat management capability at Santee NWR.”

In addition, Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, Inc. completed the rehabilitation of damaged roads at Santee NWR in June 2011. Resurfacing the roads allows water to drain properly without accumulating on the surface and there is much improved access throughout these areas.

According to Epstein, “We truly believe this project benefited our natural resource management capability and provided both economic and environmental support to our local community. The improvements, combined with the Refuge’s waterfowl sanctuarys, make Santee NWR the best public waterfowl conservation area in the midlands of South Carolina.”

In addition, local contractors were hired to conduct the work, which also supported businesses and merchants in our local community, and created two new jobs.

For more information, visit the Santee National Wildlife Refuge website!

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Originally posted 07/22/2010
Updated 09/23/2010
Updated 10/27/2011
Page Completed 11/01/2011

DOI Recovery Investments by Bureau

Last Updated: February 02, 2012
Content contact: recovery@ios.doi.gov