More to Myrtle Beach? Check out Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve!
If you’ve traveled down International Drive, you’ve passed an unassuming turn off marked as the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve, founded in 1989. What you might not know is that this 10,427 acre National Preserve is home to some of the rarest and most protected plant and animal species on earth.
Lewis Ocean Bay is home to 23 Carolina Bays. These land formations can be found throughout the East coast and are typically elliptical or oval shaped. Formed long ago, their origin is up for debate, but they are shallow wetlands fed by rain and groundwater and can be as small as an acre or as large as thousands of acres. Their diverse ecosystem makes them perfect for carnivorous plants like Pitcher Plants and Venus Fly Traps, a variety of wildflowers and orchids, and tons of wildlife. Lewis Ocean Bay is managed by the SC Department of Natural Resources and limited to public use including walking, biking, horseback riding and hunting, as well as just exploring nature and appreciating the diversity of the Grand Strand area. It is also home of red-cockaded woodpeckers and deemed a National Audubon Society as a place of ‘birding significance.’
Park at the entrance off International Drive but note that there are no specific nature paths to follow and no facilities. It is recommended to stay on the roads and the fire breaks to help preserve this precious habitat. The Preserve also benefits from scheduled and prescribed burns throughout the year that not only help the growth of its native plants, but also help prevent destructive fires.
My friend Trapper Fowler with Coastal Conservation League shared these pictures of this gorgeous place with me. Check it out for yourself!
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