South Carolina's Lowcountry might be known for its mouthwatering shrimp, crab and oysters, but there's a lot more to this coastal area than seafood. One of the best places to learn about the rich heritage and natural history of the Lowcountry is at the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center in Awendaw.
Located about 18 miles from Charleston on U.S. 17 North, the Sewee Center is a one-stop information depot for hiking and kayaking trails, camping, wildlife observation and hunting and fishing in the area. On a recent visit, I picked up recreational guides to two nearby trails - Sewee Shell Mound and I'on Swamp. I'll be writing about those trails in upcoming blogs.
The 9,000-square-foot facility also features hands-on interpretive displays on the Lowcountry's unique forest and coastal ecosystems, as well as native wildlife, including the endangered red wolf. Even cooler, the center is home to a live red wolf compound.
The viewing area can be found along the one-mile Nebo Pond trail, a flat nature walk that meanders past several freshwater ponds through swamp bottomland and pine woods. During our visit last month, there was one wolf in residence. He had holed up in his den to get out of a misty rain, so we never got a look at him.
Later this month, he will be moved to another location to allow for the construction of a new enclosure. When the compound is completed in the spring, two pairs of wolves will make their home in the facility.
Jointly operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, the Sewee Center serves as the gateway to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and Francis Marion National Forest.
A full schedule of educational programs and tours are offered throughout the year introducing visitors to the 325,000 acres of public land. Schedule events include children's "hands-on" conservation programs, guided wildflower walks and guided kayak trips through blackwater and salt water creeks and bays. Among the most popular excursion is the Cape Romain Lighthouse Tour, the only guided trip to visit Lighthouse Island.