South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Long Branch Bay Heritage Preserve
Property LocationWilliston, SC 29583
Latitude: 33.32 Longitude:-81.39
Property Type: Heritage Preserve - Natural
NO Hunting Allowed on Property
Hours of Operation
This Heritage Preserve is only available for visitation by Guided Tour.
Long Branch Bay contains one of the most significant Carolina bay depression meadows in South Carolina. The preserve’s Carolina bay depression meadow consists of about 40 acres.
Carolina bays are elliptical depressions typically oriented northwest/southeast along their axes. They are found in the Coastal Plain of the southern Atlantic states and range in size from a few acres to several square miles. Theories on the origin of Carolina bays include meteor/comet showers, wind-blown sand, ocean currents and even prehistoric fish beds. Many of South Carolina’s bays have been altered by ditching, residential or commercial development, rights-of-way and impoundments.
Carolina bays are typically isolated, temporary, freshwater wetlands. They are generally separated into two types: peat-based or clay-based. Peat based bays usually have deposits of peat overlying sand, and are dominated by pocosin vegetation. Bays with a clay lens are usually dominated by pond cypress and gum trees. Long Branch Bay is clay-based, but has a depression meadow ecotype, rather than a typical cypress/gum ecotype.
Four plant species of concern grow in the preserve’s depression meadow. They include awned meadow beauty, Tracy’s beakrush, slender arrow-head, and perennial goobergrass. Periodic fires, frequent inundation, and a hard clay lens combine to maintain depression meadows by discouraging shrub and tree species.