Kingfisher Pond Discovery Center Project Fundraising Progress


Friends of the Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges (FSCWR)
is an organization of volunteers from coastal Georgia and South Carolina dedicated to preserving and protecting the seven National Wildlife Refuges in our area and the Refuge System as a whole. These refuges are managed by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, which currently consists of more than 560 Refuges totaling about 150 million acres of land and water across the US, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

     Founded in 2007 and granted tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status in 2008, we are one of more than 230 Friends groups affiliated with National Wildlife Refuges.  We are also an affiliate of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, a national group that advocates for the entire Refuge System.

What's New

December 1, 2016

Scavenger Hunt a “DASH”ing success!

Our first ever Coastal Celebrity Daring Adventure Scavenger Hunt was held on a beautiful November Saturday at the Savannah NWR.  After 12 weeks of fund raising to support the Kingfisher Discovery Center, five teams of DASH’ers met at the Visitor Center to receive their instructions.  The teams were excited and ready to compete, and clues in hand they scattered across the Refuge to find and photograph the scavenger hunt targets, while hoping to be the first to return to the Visitor Center having completed the most items in the allotted time.

The winning team was the Public School Problem Solvers, made up of Julie Wade, Peter Ulrich, Alfred McGuire, Heather Handy, and Kurt Hetager.  They took home the coveted Golden Monocle Award for finishing first. 

The South University team of Dr. Todd Cellini, Craig Tootle, Dorethea Walker, and Tim Blackston took home the trophy for raising the most money during the contest, over $5000.

Over lunch after the DASH (thanks to Twila Gray for cooking up and serving those great hot dogs!) the participants were looking forward to doing it again next year, recruiting more teams and raising more money for the Discovery Center.

A big Friends group thanks to all of those who participated or donated, and a special thanks to Anne Robinson, who organized and mentored event.  We raised just over $16,000!

November 21, 2016

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, a time for gifts and giving.  Here are three ways that you can help support the Friends at this joyous time of year:

  • Give a Friends membership as a gift.  Click HERE to fill out an application in your recipient’s name.  If you are already a member, you may need to log out, then go back to the page.
  • When you shop on-line at, use this link to support us.   #StartWithaSmile at and Amazon donates to the Friends.  The donation comes from Amazon, it does not cost you a penny extra.
  • Shop at our store, The Gator Hole on Saturday, December 3rd from 9AM – 4PM at our annual Holiday sale.  All items (with a few exceptions) are 20% off the ticketed price. The store is located in the Savannah NWR Visitor Center. (MAP)

November 17, 2016

Don't forget, the Daring Adventure Scavenger Hunt will be held on Saturday the 19th at the Savannah NWR Visitor Center!  More than $13,000 has been raised so far for the Kingfisher Discovery Center Project by five teams of local celebrities.  Join us on Saturday to see which team will take home the coveted Golden Monocle Trophy for being the first to complete the hunt.

The plan for the Kingfisher Discovery Center has been modified into a two-phase process.  Click HERE to read about the changes and the reasons why.

November 5, 2016

Harris Neck NWR is now open to the public with some driving restrictions.

October 27, 2016

More good news! Pinckney Island NWR has re-opened after a massive clean-up effort that involved volunteers and FWS staff following Hurricane Matthew. All areas of the refuge are open, however visitors are asked to please use caution as some hazards may still exist. Please report any hazardous conditions to the Savannah NWR Visitor Center at (843) 784-2468.

October 24, 2016

Here is an update from FWS regarding the refuges:

"Harris Neck NWR is partially open.  Debris from Hurricane Matthew has been cleared from Wildlife Drive and majority of hiking trails.  Parts of the Refuge remain closed due to activity associated with southern pine beetle control efforts. Wildlife Drive remains two-way traffic and is open up to Thomas Landing Circle.  Please adhere to posted trail closures.   


Blackbeard Island NWR update - beaches are open to the general public; however, hiking trails remain closed for public safety as staff and volunteers continue to clear trails of hazardous storm debris.  


Blackbeard Island NWR December Archery Hunt will take place Dec. 1st-Dec.4th.  Hunters can check-in on island starting sunrise on Nov. 30th."

October 21, 2016

Good news everyone!!  The Savannah NWR Visitor Center and Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive are now open to the public.  While there is still storm damage to be repaired, the power is back on and FWS has determined that all safety issues are resolved.

Unfortunately, all the other refuges remain closed for now.

Also - the Coastal Celebrity Daring Adventure Scavenger Hunt (DASH) has been extended until November 19th.  Still lots of time to make your donation! 

October 10, 2016

Hope all of you survived Matthew unscathed.  Our refuges sustained some serious damage and will be closed until further notice.  Power is still not restored at the Savannah NWR Visitor Center.  The VC and the wildlife drive are closed. We may need some volunteer clean-up help - watch your email inbox for an announcement.

The Coastal Celebrity DASH scheduled for October 15 will be rescheduled.  The new date has not yet been set.

October 6, 2016

The threat of Hurricane Matthew has caused FWS to close our refuges until further notice.  Also, the Celebrity Splash Dunking booth scheduled for tonight has been postponed.

To all our Friends in the coastal areas of GA and SC - finish your Hurricane preparations and be safe!

October 4, 2016

Thanks to Hurricane Matthew, the boat tours of Blackbeard Island NWR to celebrate Refuge Week scheduled for Saturday, october 8, 2016, have been cancelled.  FWS staff will be contacting those with reservations regarding refunds.

If you did not receive a copy of our email listing all the upcoming October events, please contact us at and we'll send you a copy.

September 6, 2016

Are you DASHing ?

The Coastal Celebrity Daring Adventure Scavenger Hunt is off and running with more than $3000 pledged so far!  If you have not yet made your donation, please go to our EverydayHero web page and donate to one of the teams, or just click on the big green "To Donate click here" button in the right hand column of this page to make your donation.  The DASH takes place on October 15, so there is still time to make a donation to your favorite team or DASHerFor more info, read the Connect Savannah article from August 24.

Remember, all donations will help us reach our goal of building the Kingfisher Discovery Center on Savannah NWR.

All donations are tax-deductible.  Not comfortable with an online donation?  No problem, just send your check to:

Attn: DASH
PO Box 16841
Savannah, GA, 31416

To see the donation categories, click HERE.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

August 24, 2016

The DASH has started!  The Coastal Celebrity Daring Adventure Scavenger Hunt (DASH) kicked off last week with 30 eager team members ready to start raising money for the Kingfisher Discovery Center.  There is still time to join or form a team to win a chance to participate in the Scavenger Hunt on Savannah National Wildlife Refug on October 15, 2016.

For more info contact us at  To donate, click on the "To Donate click here" button on the right.

For more info, read the Connect Savannah article from August 24.

August 11, 2016

After several weeks of being closed, Harris Neck NWR is open to the public.  This will be a partial opening again. Some trail closures are in effect. Please adhere to the trail closure signs. Woody Pond levee is open to the public for great viewing of the rookery.  The front entrance area is open with access to the fishing pier. Barbour River Recreation Area to include the public boat ramp is open.  Bluebill Pond Trail is closed (no access at this time). 

July 30, 2016

The Kingfisher Pond Discovery Center Project is ready to move into a new phase.  Our Advisory Board (chaired by Dr. Todd Cellini) has hired a fund-raiser to identify major potential donors and organize activities to raise money and get the word out about the need for the project.  We received a publicity boost today with a very nice article in the Savannah Morning News by Mary Landers.

Your contribution will help to make the Project a reality.

Watch this site for upcoming activities.

June 9, 2016

US Fish & Wildlife Service has announced that Harris Neck NWR will be closed to the public until further notice.  Unfortunately, the Refuge has been heavily impacted by the recent southern pine beetle infestation in Macintosh County.  Control of this parasitic beetle requires the removal of affected trees and those immediately surrounded them.  This will involve removing more than 250 acres of southern pine trees.  Contractors are now at the refuge removing trees, and it was determined that this activity posed a potential threat to visitors.  Follow the FWS website to find out when the Refuge will reopen.

March 31, 2016


Grant for Pinckney Island NWR Awarded to the Friends by Community Foundation of the Lowcountry


Press Release

Friends of the Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges are pleased to announce a generous grant of $37,000 from Community Foundation of the Lowcountry for Pinckney Island NWR Visitor Accessibility & Programs.  The grant funds will be used to purchase equipment including multi-passenger golf carts, bicycles, binoculars, and improved signage.  


As a result of the grant and in partnership with the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex, there will be expanded programming for all visitors including the elderly, very young and mobility impaired.  You can look forward to guided nature programs for all ages many utilizing our soon to be purchased golf carts, bicycles and binoculars.   We will also be providing visitor assistance including water on very hot days.  


Please volunteer to help the Friends and Refuge staff improve visitor experiences at Pinckney Island NWR as a result of this grant.  We need Program Leaders (e.g. nature walks, birding, bike tours, children programs, etc.), Visitor Assistants, Publicity, Refuge Maintenance, Volunteer Coordinator and other support tasks. No experience is necessary, just a desire to support the refuge make it a more welcoming place for our visitors.

Email John Petraglia at if you are interested in volunteering.

“Work to make a living…volunteer to make a difference”

Friends of the Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges


Tours Started 

Pinckney Island NWR

Pinckney Island NWR Nature programs are brought to you FREE by the Friends of the Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges and the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge thanks to a generous grant from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.  Tours started on our Inaugural Day - Nov. 29th. 

See Tour Schedule

See Dec 1 Island Packet Article 

See Inaugural Day Photos

See Friends Forward Article NEW

Support the Friends

FSCWR receives no government funding.  Our activities are made possible by membership dues, contributions from folks like you, from sales at our book and nature store, The Gator Hole (at Savannah NWR), and from grants. 

Please consider becoming a member or making a donation to enable us to continue our efforts in support of our refuges.  If your are a grant administrator or know of an organization that might be interested in awarding grants to the Friends, please contact Rick Shields at

Coming Events

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 12:00 PM • Pinckney Island NWR
Tuesday, January 31, 2017 12:00 PM • Pinckney Island NWR
Tuesday, February 07, 2017 12:00 PM • Pinckney Island NWR
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 12:00 PM • Pinckney Island NWR
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 12:00 PM • Pinckney Island NWR
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 12:00 PM • Pinckney Island NWR

Recent Posts

Thursday, November 17, 2016 8:17 AM • Rick Shields
Sunday, January 24, 2016 12:38 PM • John Petraglia
Thursday, December 03, 2015 8:47 PM • Rick Shields
Thursday, October 01, 2015 8:33 PM • Rick Shields
Monday, March 30, 2015 9:58 AM • Rick Shields
Monday, November 10, 2014 8:08 PM • Rick Shields

Friends of the Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges, Inc.
PO Box 16841, Savannah, GA, 31416
Copyright 2016

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