Submitting Campus

Daytona Beach


School of Graduate Studies

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication/Presentation Date



The 78,000-ha Savannah River Site, which is located in the upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina along the Savannah River, was established as a nuclear production facility in 1951 by the Atomic Energy Commission. The site’s physical and vegetative characteristics, land use history, and the impacts of management and operations are described. Aboriginal and early European settlement was primarily along streams, where much of the farming and timber cutting have occurred. Woodland grazing occurred in the uplands and lowlands. Land use intensity increased after the Civil War and peaked in the 1920s. Impacts from production of cotton and corn, naval stores, fuelwood, and timber left only scattered patches of relatively untouched land and, coupled with grazing and less-frequent fire, severely reduced the extent of longleaf pine (Pinus palustrus) ecosystems. After 1951, the USDA Forest Service, under the direction of the Atomic Energy Commission, initiated a large-scale reforestation effort and continued to manage the site’s forests. Over the last decade, forest management efforts have shifted to recovering the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) and restoring longleaf pine habitat. A research set-aside program was established in the 1950s and is now administered by the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Impacts from thermal effluents, fly-ash runoff, construction of radioactive waste facilities, and release of low-level radionuclides and certain metals have been assessed by the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and other researchers.

Publication Title

Avian Research at the Savannah River Site: A Model for Integrating Basic Research and Long-Term Management


Cooper Ornithological Society

Grant or Award Name

Department of Energy, contract # DE-AC09-76SR00819

Additional Information

Dr. Gaines was not affiliated with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the time this chapter was published.