National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl Migratory Birds Fort Watson, American Revolutionary War History, Santee Indian Mound, Clarendon County, SC
Friends of Santee National Wildlife Refuge
Welcome YOU to Clarendon County, SC
         Friends Invite You to Come to Santee NW Refuge
     "The best birding center in South Carolina and the Southeast."

       Santee NW Refuge  2125 Fort Watson Rd.  Summerton, SC 29148
       803-478-2217  West of I-95, exit 102 @ US 301/US 15, 6 miles south of Summerton, SC
     "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world" - John Muir
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           Directions to Santee National Wildlife Refuge           Map of Santee NW Refuge - Cuddo Unit           Bird List

Friends of Santee NW refuge Logo The purpose of the Friends of Santee National Wildlife Refuge 
is to promote conservation, awareness, and appreciation of the

Santee National Wildlife Refuge

and to provide assistance to the Refuge programs in welcoming visitors to Santee NW Refuge.



Eastern Towhee at Santee NW Refuge Capture a glimpse of some of South Carolina's residents like this Eastern Towhee during bird walks offered at Santee NWR this month (Credit: Woody Tilley)        Refuge Announces May Events:

Come out and connect with nature at Santee National Wildlife Refuge this month.  May is a beautiful time of year to bring your family or enjoy the solitude you can find on one of the refuge’s hiking trails or along the Wildlife Drive.  The Visitor Center is a great place to start and find out information about what’s being seen around the refuge, including the best places to view such beautiful songbirds as the Painted Bunting and Prothonotary Warblers or for a possible glimpse of an American Alligator or many of the refuge’s other reptilian residents.  

To celebrate International Migratory Bird Day, the refuge is planning bird walks to help visitors learn about bird-watching in South Carolina and the refuge.  Participants should meet at the refuge visitor center located off of Ft. Watson Road, 7 miles south of Summerton off Hwy 15/301.  The tours will begin at 7:00 am and will last approximately 2 hours.  Please contact refuge Park Ranger, Susan Heisey at 803-478-2217 for information or directions on where to meet.  The bird walks are scheduled for:
Tuesday May 17th and Wednesday May 18th
Tuesday May 24th and Wednesday 25th

National Wildlife Refuges…Where Wildlife Comes Naturally!

   Visitor Center Schedule   •  Normal hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday, and the first Saturday of each month from 8:00AM – 4:00PM. We recommend calling ahead to ensure the center will be open (803-478-2217).
          CLOSED  On Sundays and  Mondays

Fishing on the Refuge:
All areas open to boating are also open to fishing, as well as the Scott's Lake Public Fishing Beach. These areas produce largemouth bass, catfish and bream. All Federal and State regulations are in effect. For more information, contact the refuge.

Posted on Fri, Sep. 28, 2007
 "Off the beaten trail"
Cuddo bike path in Santee refuge a great place to check out wildlife

It’s more a dirt road than a bike trail, and the knee-high grass makes pedaling a bike difficult in some sections.
Despite those drawbacks, the critter-filled surroundings on the banks of Lake Marion make the 8.7-mile bike trail through the Cuddo Unit of the Santee National Wildlife Refuge worth the trip.

Usually, spotting wildlife while riding a bike is nearly impossible. On a nearly two-hour ride in Cuddo, I saw some large gators on land and in the water, two deer, a great blue heron, several great egrets, a wide variety of ducks and so many butterflies that at times I felt the need to slow down so they wouldn’t smack me in the face.
Other sections of the 15,095-acre preserve in Clarendon County have plenty of hiking trails, but Cuddo has the refuge’s only trail designated for bikes. (Hiking is allowed on the bike trail.) Unlike the main office of the Santee Refuge, which is just a couple miles from I-95, you have to travel several miles on back roads to get to the Cuddo Unit entrance.

The gate is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. April through September and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. October through February. The Cuddo Unit is closed to hikers and bikers during two deer hunts Sept. 30-Oct. 6 and Oct. 15-20.
The rest of the year, Cuddo is all about wildlife viewing. I stopped three times on my bike trip to take photos. A bird-watcher with more patience might want to stop 10 times, especially when cooler nights take the sting out of the bug population.

It’s obvious the refuge staff spends more time worrying about resident wildlife than human visitors. The bike trail is nothing more than a dirt road used sparingly by refuge workers and, for two weeks a year, hunters.
The dearth of trail markers prompted me to go against Robert Frost’s advice and take the road more traveled whenever there was a choice. Only once did that fail me. Near the end of the clockwise loop, I went straight when I should have turned right. But 100 yards down the wrong road, I came upon a “dead end” sign and turned around.

The trail winds through a basic pine/immature hardwood forest. The first must-stop spot is a couple of miles into the journey when only the trail/road separates Lake Marion from a pond.
Two large gators sunbathed on an island in the pond. What looked like large moving sticks in the lake cove meant at least a half-dozen more gators hang out in the area. The Cuddo Unit has the highest concentration of gators, and the largest individuals, in the refuge.

If you encounter a gator sunbathing on the bike trail, you’d best turn around and try the loop going the other direction.
I made it only a few hundred yards more before leaving the bike behind to stroll on the clam-covered shore of the drought-sunken lake. Back on the bike, what had been an easy ride turned difficult when the dirt road gave way to thick grass. I bet no more than a dozen bikes had cut through that grass in the past couple of months.

The tall, thick grass, which dominated two of the next three miles, made the bike seem like it had two flat tires. This would be an ideal section for a Lowcountry biker training for long, uphill climbs.
In the middle of the grassy section is the other hard-to-resist stop on a point between two lake coves. Small cypress trees spike the broad lake vista. On this sunny day, yellow and purple wildflowers blanketed the edges of the road, and the flocks of butterflies made it seem many of the yellow flowers had sprung wings.

After another mile of grassy road and one brief wrong turn, the final mile or two back to the car was an easy pedal. Just for kicks, I drove the full 7.5-mile auto trail in Cuddo, which reminded me why it’s much more interesting to hike or bike, even if you have to plow through tall grass.
Reach Holleman at (803) 771-8366.
BIKE RIDE:  A place to ride at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge  WHAT: 8.7-mile bike trail
WHERE: Cuddo Unit of the Santee National Wildlife Refuge
WHEN: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. April through September; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. October through February. Closed to hikers and bikers during deer hunts Sept. 30-Oct. 6 and Oct. 15-20.

DIRECTIONS FROM COLUMBIA: Take I-26 east to I-95 north. Get off at exit 108. Turn right, and go about 1½ miles to the end of road. Turn left, and go 2 miles to Davis Crossroads. Just past the crossroads, take the first paved road to the right and go about 4 miles. Turn right and go about ½ mile until road dead-ends. Turn right, and the entrance to the Cuddo Unit is on the left. Refuge signs make it easier than it seems.

FEES: Free        INFORMATION: (803) 478-2217 or


Come to Santee NW Refuge and join for 2009.  

Friends of Santee National Wildlife Refuge
invite you to join or
renew your membership for 2009. 

Student          $10
Individual       $25
Family           $40
Patron          $100
Sponsor        $250
Corporate     $500

The purposes of Santee Refuge Friends are exclusively charitable and educational within the meaning of the Section 501 © (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and is an independent, non-profit organization.


"Important Bird Area"
by National Audubon Society
Based on: endangered species, watch list species and concentrations of birds  (waterfowl, colonial waterbeds and exceptional numbers of migratory land birds).
Friends of the Refuge and an eagle and her nest

Join Friends of Santee Refuge and see alligators and great wildlife Friends of the Refuge treasure your membership

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Santee Refuge Recognized as an Important Bird Area by Audubon

 Friends of Santee National Wildlife Refuge announced that the National Audubon Society had conferred the designation of "Important Bird Area" (IBA) upon Santee National Wildlife Refuge.  This announcement was made at the conclusion of International Migratory Bird Day activities held on the refuge on Saturday, May 15th, 2004.  Santee National Wildlife Refuge was selected as an Important Bird Area on the basis of three nominating criteria:  Endangered Species, WatchList Species, and Concentrations of Birds (waterfowl, colonial waterbirds, and exceptional number of migratory landbirds).  Quoting from Paul Koehler, Audubon's coordinator for South Carolina's Important Bird Area Program, "I applaud the management and conservation efforts at Santee NWR that contribute toward it being named an Important Bird Area".  There are now 30 IBA's that have been recognized in South Carolina and nearly 1,500 across the United States.  Congratulations to the refuge staff on this special recognition.  Two signs designating Santee NWR as an Important Bird Area are erected at visitor contact areas to help underscore the importance of the refuge for bird populations. 

                         Santee National Wildlife Refuge Migratory Waterfowl Ground Census
Hooded Merganser
American Black Duck
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Wood Duck
Lesser Scaup
Ring-necked Duck
Canada Goose
Tundra Swan
American Coot
Pied-billed Grebe
Blue-winged Teal
Come walk the new nature trails
between the Visitor Center and Indian Mound.

New Binoculars at the Visitor Center, 
thanks to Friends and Santee Cooper.
Friends and Santee Cooper donated and installed new binoculars
New Binoculars in place & dedicated Oct 16, 2004.
Visitors on the deck have increased 30%.
Thank you Santee Cooper for your donation.
     We are working hard to increase membership and to get members involved with proposed projects on the Refuge. 
If you have a special skill or interest please let us know. 
Visitors enjoy new binoculars
First visitors to use the new glasses, June 19, 2004.

New Refuge System Exhibit Panels at SC Welcome Center
        Two new exhibit panels promoting the Refuge System, the Centennial celebration, and inviting travels to visit the refuges located near Interstate 95 were erected at the SC Welcome Center and Rest Area sites just across Lake Marion.  The panels which are housed in covered, outdoor kiosks also include a section devoted to Santee National Wildlife Refuge.
Several hundred thousand travelers on I-95 could view these panels annually. 
New Cuddo Driving Trail sign installed by Gene & George.
Find the Cuddo Driving Trail with the new sign installed by Gene; revised in 2010, look for new sign.
Young gator seen in Cuddo, 2004
Young spring gator seen in Cuddo, 2004.
Map of Santee NW Refuge Cuddo Unit for the driving, biking & walking trails
map of Cuddo Unit of Santee NW Refuge

See you at  Santee National Wildlife Refuge
Friends of Santee National Wildlife Refuge logo
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The Friends of Santee NW Refuge is a 501(c)(3), non-profit.
  Friends of Santee National Refuge greatly appreciate Friends of Santee NW Refuge
 the Memorial contributions received in honor of Bruce G. Chaney.    
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