Wolf Island | Darien, Georgia
View a map showing all of Georgia’s major barrier islands.
Five miles east of Darien lies Wolf Island, part of a National Wildlife refuge that also includes Egg and Little Egg islands. One of the many barrier islands that protect the fragile Georgia coastline, the property is bounded by the salt waters of Altamaha Sound, the South River and Little Mud River, and the Atlantic Ocean. A vast expanse of marsh, marsh hammocks, and tidal creeks separates the island from the mainland. Egg and Little Egg Islands are also part of the refuge.
The island’s recorded history began in 1769, when Christopher DeBrake was granted title to Wolf Island by the King of England. In 1828, 538 acres were conveyed to the U.S. Government. The strategic location of the island made it an important landmark on early navigational charts, and an old Coast Guard light once stood on the northern tip.
In 1930, the 538 acres in the government’s possession were set aside as a sanctuary for migratory birds. In the early 1970s, a series of land transactions enlarged the sanctuary significantly. In 1973, the refuge was closed to hunting of migratory birds, and in 1975, it was designated a National Wilderness Area.
The island contains 300 acres of uplands, including a narrow 4-mile strip of beach, backed by maritime shrub thickets. Here, sea oats, sandspurs, and other beach-dune perennials flourish with wax myrtle and southern red cedar in the higher areas. The remainder of the island is salt marsh, small marsh hammocks, and tidal creeks, which flood daily. The salt marsh is dominated by cordgrass with some sea oxeye, needle grass, and glasswort. A wide mud flat covers the central marsh.
A wide diversity of shorebirds and marsh birds forage on the island, including the brown pelican. Migratory waterfowl winter here, the most common of which include scaups, scoters, black ducks, megansers, and buffleheads.
From Georgia Wildlands, A Guide to Lands Protected by the Nature Conservancy of Georgia
Wolf Island and the Nature Consercancy
The Nature Conservancy set out to protect Wolf Island by acquiring a 3,464-acre tract in 1969. In 1972, The Nature Conservancy purchased a second tract of 492 acres adjacent to the first property. Later in the same year, both tracts were sold to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, together with Egg and Little Egg Islands. All three of these islands today are managed as part of the Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge.