South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Old Island Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area
Property LocationSaint Helena Island, SC 29920
Latitude: 32.328 Longitude:-80.51
Game Zone: 3
Property Type: Heritage Preserve / WMA Specific
Hours of Operation
The area is open during daylight hours year-round.
Activities / Facilities
The 400 acre Old Island Heritage Preserve is located in coastal Beaufort County, near Hunting Island State Park. The property was acquired from The Nature Conservancy's South Carolina Chapter to protect seven coastal habitat types and feeding areas for the federally endangered wood stork and federally threatened bald eagle. Perhaps the most appealing feature of the property is a relatively undisturbed coastal island. One only has to look across Old House Creek at Fripp Island to see the potential for development on this property.
The preserve consists of one major portion of uplands and several smaller, isolated pieces. The uplands are relict dune ridges surrounded by many acres of salt marsh and tidal creeks. The dune ridges are dominated by live oak, loblolly pine, and cabbage palm. The understory is comprised of thick stands of yaupon holly and wax myrtle. Several dune ridges have freshwater wetlands between them and some have saltwater wetlands in the middle. This mosaic of habitat types makes the island a very diverse system.
Old Island Heritage Preserve is only accessible by boat. To reach the preserve, put in at Russ Point Landing at Fripps Inlet on the south end of Hunting Island State Park. Travel across Fripps Inlet to either Old House Creek or the Story River. The preserve is on the right side of Old House Creek and on the left side of the Story River. The uplands are difficult to access without crossing expanses of salt marsh. Perhaps the best way to view the preserve is paddling its boundary in a canoe or kayak. The shallow creeks and salt marsh have good numbers of shorebirds, egrets, herons, gulls, terns and red-winged blackbirds.