Botany Bay Road, Edisto Island
A worthwhile detour off of Highway 17 in southern Charleston County (take SC 174 and follow the Edisto Island National Scenic Byway) is the Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area.
The 4,687 acre Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located adjacent to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast corner of Edisto Island in lower Charleston County, South Carolina. The area lies near the North Edisto River just south of the intensely developed resort islands of Kiawah and Seabrook and just north of the rapidly developing Edisto Beach area. The SC Department of Natural Resources acquired this property and opened it to the public in 2008.
The area’s location near the North Edisto River places it within the boundary of the ACE Basin Focus Area, one of the largest remaining relatively undeveloped wetland ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast. Botany Bay Plantation WMA with Botany Bay Island (under conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy) and Deveaux Bank form a core area of protected habitat in the eastern corner of the Focus Area.
The biological features of Botany Bay Plantation WMA are characteristic of Sea Islands along the lower Southeast coast. The undeveloped coastal habitats of the management area are important to numerous wildlife species. The beach is utilized for nesting by the federally-threatened loggerhead sea turtle and the state-threatened least tern. The maritime forest and coastal scrub/shrub areas provide nesting and foraging habitat for neotropical songbirds including painted buntings and summer tanagers. The uplands support a wide diversity of wildlife. The tidal marshes and managed wetlands contain a variety of fish and shellfish resources and provide foraging habitat for numerous wildlife species.
The cultural resources on Botany Bay Plantation WMA are extremely significant. Cultural resource sites dating from as early as the Late Archaic Period through the 19th century are present. Several sites including the Fig Island Shell Rings, outbuildings from Bleak Hall Plantation and elements of the Alexander Bache U.S. Coast Survey Line are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.