ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve

One of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the east coast, South Carolina’s ACE Basin reserve is named for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers, which meet at St. Helena Sound. The reserve’s 99,308 acres of pine and hardwood uplands, forested wetlands, tidal marshes, cypress swamps, oyster reefs, and barrier islands protect endangered species such as shortnose sturgeon, wood storks, loggerhead sea turtles, and bald eagles. Reserve staff and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources work together to restore oyster reefs along tidal marshes. These living shorelines help protect coastal communities and keep waterways clean and healthy.

Visit the Reserve's Website

Vital Stats

  • State: South Carolina
  • State Partner:

    South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

  • Acreage: 99,308
  • Habitats: Pine and hardwood uplands, forested wetlands, fresh, brackish, and saltwater tidal marshes, barrier islands, and beaches.
  • Designated: 1992
  • Site Profile: View
The ACE Basin reserve participates in the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP), which collects, analyzes, and makes available weather, water quality, and nutrient data from all National Estuarine Research Reserves. Learn more


Tag horseshoe crabs, enjoy early morning bird walks, listen to lectures about reptiles and rattlesnakes, or experience fish spawning or migrating in the fish lift at the Dennis Wildlife Center Fish Hatchery. There’s much to discover at the Ace Basin reserve.


There are volunteer opportunities to match your interests and skills at the ACE. Volunteer to greet and educate visitors, lead tours and field trips, participate in beach sweeps, or assist with dune protection, oyster reef monitoring, or landscaping.

Learn more

Become a Friend

The Friends of Edisto Beach State Park and ACE Basin NERR support educational and recreational projects, park enhancement, and coastal stewardship efforts. The group leads the “lights out for loggerheads” effort from May to October to protect sea turtle hatchlings—a great way to get your feet wet as a volunteer.

Join Today

Did you know?

The Edisto River is one of the longest blackwater rivers in the world.


Phil Maier
ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29412
T: 843-546-6219