|For Immediate Release||June 24, 1999|
|Media Contact:||Bill Taylor (803) 725-2889|
Aiken, S.C. (June 24) -- Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today designated 10,000 acres of the Savannah River Site (SRS) as a biological and wildlife refuge creating the Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and Ecological Reserve. The agreement, co-signed by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Director Dr. Paul Sandifer, gives the state overall management responsibility for the reserve.
The creation of the Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and Ecological Reserve will preserve the unique plant and wildlife habitat that lies on the site’s western boundary along the Savannah River, south of the town of Jackson, S.C. The Crackerneck area is recognized as a habitat for several wildlife species, including a variety of threatened and endangered animal species.
This agreement will further protect a unique habitat that for almost 50 years has been spared from development,” Secretary Richardson said. “It marks a partnership between the Energy Department and South Carolina that will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy this ecological treasure and the abundant wildlife that live or migrate through Crackerneck.”
The agreement formally establishes the ongoing preservation and maintenance of the reserve by designating a portion of the Savannah River Site to be made available for the use and enjoyment of the surrounding community. In the unlikely event that SRS were to give up ownership of the land, DOE would work to transfer ownership to the state so that the Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and Ecological Reserve would always be protected.
“This is a very positive move that will allow the management and protection of the area in perpetuity and provide greater wildlife management, viewing, and hunting opportunities to our citizens,” said Dr. Paul Sandifer, director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR). We are excited about the expanded opportunities for the public and for wildlife management. Dr. Sandifer praised the past management practices carried out by DOE in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service. He pledged that DNR’s management will retain the natural character of the area and provide a greater emphasis on wildlife management.
The creation of the Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and Ecological Reserve continues the department’s efforts to protect ecologically valuable parcels at its sites. Similar preservation activities have been implemented at Hanford, Washington; Rocky Flats, Colorado, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
SRS was built in the early 1950s to produce materials used in nuclear weapons. The site processes and stores nuclear materials in support of the national defense and U.S. nuclear nonproliferation efforts. The site also develops and deploys technologies to improve the environment and to treat nuclear and hazardous wastes that remain from the end of the Cold War. The SRS complex covers 198,344 acres, or 310 square miles encompassing parts of Aiken, Barnwell and Allendale counties in South Carolina, bordering the Savannah River.