Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (originally called the Savannah River Bird Refuge) was established in 1927 as a 2,352 acre migratory bird refuge . Since then it has grown to 31,551 acres that provide habitats for many plants and animals, including some species that are endangered or threatened. It is named after the Savannah River which flows through the refuge. About half the refuge lies in Georgia, the other half in South Carolina.
Savannah is truly an urban refuge, bordering the very busy Port of Savannah to the west and with downtown Savannah just seven miles southeast from the Visitor Center.
Habitats include freshwater marshes, tidal rivers and creeks, and bottomland hardwoods containing cypress, gum, and maple species. About half the refuge is bottomland with access to these areas by boat only.
Savannah NWR is the largest of the seven refuges managed from the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex office located in the Savannah NWR Visitor Center.
The 3,000 acres of freshwater impoundments you see while on the Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive are depicted in the map inset above. These were formerly part of rice plantations dating back to the mid or late 1700's, but are now managed for native animals and plants, migratory waterfowl, and the habitats they need to thrive. Many of the dikes enclosing these pools were originally built during the rice culture era.
For more on rice cultivation in the area touch the button below.