The Hidden Gem of the Pee Dee | Public Spaces
MULLINS, SC (WMBF) – The WMBF News Team has seen a lot during their time in Marion County this week and met so many great people. Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Rob Hatchell even grew up in our parts and wishes he’d known about one of the true hidden gems right in the Pee Dee when he was a kid.
“I want to welcome you to Fort Wretch Wildlife Refuge,” Frank Oliver, Senior Vice President of Wildlife Education at Wildlife Action, Inc. announces. “This is a property owned and managed by Wildlife Action, Incorporated. We are a 34-year-old conservation and education organization. We’re headquartered out of Millins, South Carolina, but we have chapters in eight southeastern states.”
Just off Highway 76 between Mullins and Nichols, you’ll find Fork Retch. 60 acres of nothing but nature as peaceful and quiet as it gets. It almost feels as if you’ve stepped into another world, and for some it may be and that’s where Wildlife Action comes in.
“We’re any outdoor activities,” Oliver said. “We’re a family oriented group, but at this particular property, this is where we have our summer camp program and we also do a lot of environmental education programs for school groups, bout scouts. We also do rentals for corporate retreats, family reunions, weddings, any type of activity in a beautiful setting is what we try and cater to.”
When Rob visited Fork Retch and the Wildlife Action Group, camp was in session and it was hard for him not to jump in the lake with them.
Campers learn about hunting, fishing, gun safety, but there’s always time for a little fun.
“We learn about snakes, we do canoeing, we do a whole bunch of other stuff,” 16-year-old camper Josh said. We go on youth hunts, we learn about a bunch of things. You go fishing…it’s just a lot of things you do over here.”
But it’s not all for the boys.
“I love being outdoors and I love the social part of it, but I do love learning all this stuff,” 15-year-old camper Katie added.
Katie is a duck hunter from Gresham, and now it seems a Wildlife Action “lifer.”
“I think it’s good that the girls learn a lot of the this stuff, too, instead of just staying inside, not being outdoors a lot,” Katie said. “They get to come out and experience all the bug bites and everything else like the guys do. They don’t like that too much, but I think it’s good for them. Kind of toughen them up a little bit.”
Whether you’re trying to toughen up or just spending some time learning about the environment and making new friends, For Wretch and Wildlife Outdoors seems to be the kind of place that keeps you coming back.
“I’m so glad that you guys came down here, because usually when we get people down here and they see what’s offered to the community, we got them hooked,” Oliver said. “When I joined this organization seven years ago, and I still say it at our national board meetings, I proposed we changed our name to the Hidden Jewel of the Pee Dee just because a lot of people are unaware of us.”
That’s the point of WMBF News’ In Your Community series, to try and introduce you to some things you’ve never seen or heard of in our area.
For more information on Wildlife Action, click here and visit their website.
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