Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
|Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge|
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
A juvenile White Ibis in the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
|Location||McIntosh County, Georgia, United States|
|Nearest city||Riceboro, Georgia|
|Area||2,762 acres (11.18 km2)|
|Governing body||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|
The Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge (HNNWR) was established in 1962 by transfer of federal lands formerly managed by the Federal Aviation Administration as a World War II Army airfield. It consists of 2,762 acres (11.18 km2) of saltwater marsh, grassland, mixed deciduous woods, and cropland.
HNNWR is located in McIntosh County, Georgia. In the summer, thousands of egrets and herons nest in the swamps, while in the winter, large concentrations of ducks (especially mallards, gadwall and teal) gather in the marshland and freshwater pools. Harris Neck NWR is also an important nesting area for the endangered Wood Stork.
The public access to the refuge consists of over 15 miles (24 km) of paved roads and trails provide the visitor easy access to the many different habitats.
Chosen for its accessibility and bird diversity, Harris Neck is one of 18 sites forming the Colonial Coast Birding Trail, inaugurated in 2000.
History and controversy
Historically, Harris Neck was a mostly black village, settled in 1865 by a former slave deeded the land by a plantation owner. Village residents built oyster and crab processing factories. The land was condemned in 1942 for an Army airfield, the families being given 2 weeks to remove themselves. At the time of transfer the black families were given $26.90 per acre (their 89 tracts ranged form $2.44 to $5,921/acre) and the white families were given $37.31 per acre (their 19 tracts ranged form $2.09 to $1,260/acre).
Members of the displaced community and their descendants are attempting to work out a compromise with the federal government to allow them to return to their land.  This would allow them to help preserve the way of life of their Gullah ancestors.
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