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Blackbeard Island Wilderness

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An open forest, the ground covered in dense green fronds.
Library image #432: Wooded area with Palmetto understory; taken in 1995.

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the Blackbeard Island Wilderness (map) in 1975 and it now has a total of 3,000 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Georgia and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Description

Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, a notorious pirate feared by many for his murderous, plundering raids, supposedly came here to "bank" some of his ill-gained fortune. Evidence of buried treasure has never been discovered on Blackbeard Island, but there is a wealth of native wildlife and migratory birds.

Blackbeard Island was acquired by the Navy Department at public auction in 1800 as a source of naval stores for shipbuilding. It is one of the oldest properties in continuous Federal ownership in the country. Preserved as a part of the Bureau of Biological Survey in 1924, these 5,618 acres of maritime forest, salt marsh, freshwater marsh, and beach habitat became Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1940. Interconnected sand dunes, covered thickly with oak and palmetto, separate the numerous ponds and savannas that fill with seasonal rain and provide homes for waterfowl and wading birds on much of the northern portion of the refuge.

Of the land designated as Wilderness on the southern half of the refuge, about 2,470 acres consist of salt marsh, 450 acres of slash pines mixed with live oaks, and 50 acres of white sandy beach. In the thick humidity of summer, the lush beards of Spanish moss hang from the trees, and green manes of resurrection fern grow on the live oaks. Shorebirds, gulls, and terns utilize the refuge year-round, with spring and fall bringing warblers and sandpipers. Many migrant birds winter on Blackbeard, including hermit thrushes, ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, black-bellied plovers, sanderlings, and the endangered piping plover.

Planning to Visit the Blackbeard Island Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Blackbeard Island Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.



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