This reserve helps protect the natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and unique cultural heritage of the South Carolina lowcountry. The ACE Basin is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the East Coast. It is named for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers, which meet at St. Helena Sound. Although the basin is largely undeveloped, it is influenced by growth in the nearby cities of Charleston and Beaufort. The reserve protects cypress swamps, historic plantation homes, old rice fields, oyster reefs, and expansive tidal marshes while providing a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.
The ACE Basin Reserve is one of 30 areas in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The site is protected for long-term research, water-quality monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship. The reserve is managed on a daily basis by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources with input from local partners. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management provides funding, national guidance, and technical assistance.