South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
St. Helena Sound Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area
Property LocationGreen Pond, SC 29446
Latitude: 32.472 Longitude:-80.417
County: Beaufort, Colleton
Game Zone: 3
Property Type: Heritage Preserve / WMA Specific
Hours of Operation
No dogs allowed on Otter Island
The Reserve is open year-round from 1 hour before legal sunrise until 1 hour after legal sunset.
Archery hunts for deer are allowed by permit from September 15 - January 1.
Primitive camp sites are available on Otter Island from November 1 until March 31.
Hunting and camping permits are required and available by calling the McKenzie Field Station at (843) 844-8822.
Activities / Facilities
The St. Helena Sound Heritage Preserve lies at the southern tip of the ACE Basin project area and contains a diverse assemblage of outer coastal plain and barrier island natural communities. It is isolated, undeveloped and protected by open water boundaries established by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). The islands contained within the Heritage Preserve include Otter (1,889 acres), Ashe (1,722 acres), Beet (1,685 acres), Big/Warren Complex (2,241 acres), Buzzard, North Williman and South Williman (2,764 acres) islands.
Otter Island receives special protection because of its significance for rare plants, threatened and endangered species, and as an historic site. Otter's significance as a rich wildlife area is due in large part to its location. There are developed islands to the north (Edisto Island) and to the south (Harbor, Fripp and Hunting). Thus, for a long stretch of coastline, Otter is the only spot where wildlife species can rest, feed and reproduce without development pressures. The island includes maritime forest, freshwater and brackish wetlands, open salt marsh, undisturbed dune fields and shrub thickets. It is one of the State's most active nesting areas for loggerhead sea turtles and also provides nesting and feeding habitat for the endangered piping plover, peregrine falcon, wood stork, and southern bald eagle. Daytime public use is allowed year-round, but access points may be limited due to wildlife resting and nesting locations. Camping is allowed on Otter Island from November through March by permit. Archery hunting for deer is allowed by permit September 15 - January 1. Permits for camping and hunting are available from the McKenzie Field Station (843) 844-8822.
Other islands within the Preserve are also accessible only by boat. Like Otter, these islands are open year-round for daytime visitation. There are no facilities on any of the islands and one should be prepared for primitive conditions when visiting. Plant communities are similar on the islands and contain South Atlantic barrier island forest, salt shrub thicket, salt marsh, barrier island ponds, shell mounds, and sand/mud flats. Wildlife includes white-tailed deer, raccoons, bobcat, rattlesnake, and a variety of songbirds, waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds.