Savannah River National Environmental Park



Park Overview

The Savannah River Site is an 803-km2 Department of Energy (DOE) facility located on the Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina, near Aiken, SC. The site is bordered on one side by the Savannah River. Approximately 10% of the site is developed for DOE industrial activities; the remaining 720 km2 is primarily forested.

The entire SRS became the nation's first National Environmental Research Park (NERP) in 1972. Within the SRS NERP, DOE also maintains a network of research reserves (DOE Research Set-Asides). These areas preserve representative samples of all major SRS biological communities and serve as reference sites to evaluate the impacts of site operations.

Three resident research organizations are present on the SRS: the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL), USDA Forest Service - Savannah River (USFS-SR), and Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL). As a research unit of UGA, SREL's primary function is ecological research and education. SREL provides independent evaluation of the impacts of SRS operations, assistance with risk assessment and remediation, and baseline information on natural trends in unimpacted ecosystems. SREL also manages the DOE Research Set-Asides, which evolved largely from SREL long-term research sites. USFS-SR manages ~140,000 acres of the SRS for forest products and wildlife, and conducts a variety of forest research. USFS-SR also conducts frequent prescribed burns throughout the SRS, essential for the health of many native species and the prevention of wildfires. As a national laboratory SRNL's primary mission is technological research and development for DOE, but includes a significant environmental management component. SRNL is involved in remediation, hazardous waste storage and management, and other aspects of site cleanup. Collaborations among these three organizations have enhanced the value of the SRS NERP.

More information is available in a recent publication about the park.

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory