South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Tillman Sand Ridge Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area
Property LocationTillman, SC 29943
Latitude: 32.494 Longitude:-81.207
Game Zone: 3
Property Type: Heritage Preserve / WMA Specific
Hours of Operation
2020 Deer Archery Season Dates:
September 15-October 10
Migratory Waterfowl Season Open Dates:
Mon. through Sat. AM only during special and scheduled small game seasons and full week of Thanksgiving.
Activities / Facilities
The 953-acre Tillman Sand Ridge Heritage Preserve, located in Jasper County, was acquired by the SC Department of Natural Resources to protect South Carolina's most endangered reptile: the gopher tortoise. The property was donated by Georgia Pacific Corporation to The Nature Conservancy's South Carolina Chapter which then transferred it to the Heritage Trust Program. In addition to providing habitat for the gopher tortoise, the preserve also protects more than a half mile of frontage on the Savannah River.
The gopher tortoise is a large, land-dwelling tortoise found in Jasper, Hampton and Aiken counties in South Carolina. Adults may reach over a foot in length and weigh more than 12 pounds. The gopher tortoise has adapted to survive on dry, sandy soils. Its forelimbs are modified for digging and help the tortoise construct underground burrows. The burrows may be 30 feet long and 15 feet deep. The burrows help protect the tortoise from extreme temperatures and predators. They also provide habitat for over 100 other species including the gopher frog and diamondback rattlesnake. Please do not disturb gopher tortoises or their burrows!
Tillman Sand Ridge Heritage Preserve is composed primarily of two habitat types: xeric sand ridges and mixed bottomland hardwood-cypress swamp. The sand ridges are home to the gopher tortoise and several rare plant species such as gopher apple, southern twayblade and soft-haired coneflower. Much of the original longleaf pine that once dominated the xeric sand ridges was converted by previous landowners into slash pine. Longleaf is being replanted and will eventually be reestablished as the canopy species.
Mixed bottomland hardwoods-cypress swamp lie next to the Savannah River. Numerous tree species, such as bald cypress, tupelo gum, red maple, water oak and water hickory grow there. Several very large cypress trees are scattered in the swamp.
Because the preserve covers habitats from sand ridges to the Savannah River, a wide variety of birds frequent the area. Species such as prothonotary warblers, painted buntings, pileated and hairy woodpeckers, vireos and blue grosbeaks have been reported.
Fire plays a major role in shaping the species that occur on the preserve. Historically, fires were frequent and kept the understory clear of invading shrubby vegetation. These open conditions favor many rare species such as gopher tortoise and eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Preserve managers mimic lightning-caused fires by conducted prescribed burns in fire adapted communities.