Bennett's Bay Heritage Preserve

Property Location

Manning, SC 29102

Latitude: 33.637  Longitude:-80.097
Acreage: 680
County: Clarendon

Property Type: Heritage Preserve - Natural

NO Hunting Allowed on Property

Hours of Operation

Heritage preserves are open for public use from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset (Reg. No. 123-204 C).

Activities / Facilities

Nature Viewing Hiking

Property Description

Bennett's Bay Heritage Preserve is owned and managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. It was purchased in 1986 from The Nature Conservancy using monies from the Heritage Land Trust Fund.

Bennett's Bay Heritage Preserve is an example of the Carolina Bay phenomenon. Carolina Bays are elliptical or oval basins found throughout the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The vast majority of these features are found in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Natural History

Carolina Bays are wetlands that vary greatly in size, ranging from less than an acre to several hundred acres. Carolina Bays support abundant wildlife and several rare, threatened or endangered plant and animal species. Bennett's Bay is located in the middle of the coastal plain in Clarendon County. It comprises approximately 620 acres of which the DNR owns 428.

Bennett's Bay is one of the few large, intact bays remaining in South Carolina. The major plant communities within Bennett's Bay are pocosin, a thick shrubby vegetation and the related pond-pine woodland bay forest. These three communities are indicative of a thick peat deposit. Peat is formed when plant material, usually deposited in wetlands, does not decompose. Bennett's Bay is unusual because of its location. Most of the peat-filled bays in South Carolina occur in Horry and Marion counties. Bennett's Bay is one of the westernmost peat-filled bays in the state.

Dominant canopy species are pond pine and loblolly bay. Oaks and hickories dominate the transition zone along the western edge of the bay. A transition zone is an area where the plant species change or shift, usually because of changes in soil characteristics such as moisture. Shrub layer species include fetterbush, sweet bay, red bay, wax myrtle, sheep-kill, sweet gallberry and inkberry.

Along with their unusual shape, bays share several other features:

  • The long axis of every bay is oriented along a northwest-southeast direction.
  • Soils of the bay's interior differ from soils outside the bay.
  • Since interior soils are high in organic matter, they are hydric.
  • Bays act as basins that collect rainwater runoff and hold it perched above the normal water table.

An intermittent stream, located approximately one-third of the way up the eastern edge, drains Bennett's Bay.

Bennett's Bay has an associated sand rim that is not owned by the SCDNR. This sand rim is dominated by longleaf pine and scrub oak with typical components such as prickly pear cactus.