The Santee River is the second largest river flowing into the Atlantic Ocean along the East Coast and includes over 1,000,000 acres in its watershed. It rises over 400 miles from the Santee Delta on the Atlantic Coast, well into the hills of North Carolina. The Santee contains a broad diversity of habitat including spartina marshlands along the coast, expansive bottomland hardwoods, open longleaf pine plantations, and other important ecosystems for vital flora and fauna species. It also hosts many historic lands that date to the colonial period, sites of the early French Huguenot settlements and the Revolutionary War. In the 1930s the state of South Carolina dammed the Santee as part of the hydroelectric project that created the Santee Cooper Lakes; they now provide critical habitat for waterfowl, freshwater fish species, and other aquatic plant communities.
The Santee Basin provides a critical link between several important conservation landscapes. At its mouth, the Santee River boasts one of the most important waterfowl preservation efforts along the coast. The key Santee Delta Wildlife Management Area (the old Santee Gun Club) and the Yawkey Wildlife Center (located on South Island) protect the mouth of the river and much of its delta. Private easements along the river as well as the Francis Marion National Forest extend that coverage upstream. However, there still exist significant sections of threatened lands along the river. Fortunately, the opportunity exists to protect these important properties and secure the Santee as a conservation corridor that will link the Francis Marion National Forest, Four Holes Swamp, and Congaree National Forest.
Counties: Berkeley, Charleston, Georgetown, Williamsburg, Clarendon, Sumter, Orangeburg, Calhoun