** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

January 18, 2008

Coastal explorations series offers spring opportunities in Lowcountry

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is once again hosting an event series in the Lowcountry for the public this spring, the Coastal Explorations Series.

The goal of the Coastal Explorations Series, free of charge to the public, is to raise regional awareness of issues pertaining to South Carolina’s marine resources, the importance of conservation, and the significance of historical preservation in the Lowcountry area. Increasing the public’s understanding of S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) projects and goals is another important initiative of the scheduled programs. The Coastal Explorations Series provides the public with an opportunity to interact with and meet DNR employees that have knowledgeable insight into the following topics. The pilot year of the Series was 2007 in which 16 programs were offered with 630 participants from the public. 

The public is encouraged to register through the online calendar. Online registration is available 30 days prior to each scheduled event. Reservations are required for all of the events, as detailed logistical information varies for each seminar and public outing. Locations for the Series include the Marine Resources Complex in Charleston, Nemours Plantation in Gardens Corner, Bear Island Wildlife Management Area and the McKenzie Field Station, both located in the ACE Basin.

The Coastal Explorations Series during the spring will span from February through May. The events range in format from seminar, lecture, discussion, to hands-on identification and field outings. For additional information on the Coastal Explorations Series, contact Kim Counts, DNR coordinator, at the Marine Resources Center, at (843) 953-9354.

* February
Tour of Nemours Plantation in the ACE Basin
            Date: Thursday, Feb. 14, 9 a.m. until mid-afternoon
            Speakers: Ernie Wiggers, Manager of Nemours Wildlife Foundation; Jeff Mollenhauer, S.C. Audubon Director of Conservation

Much of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers (ACE) Basin is composed of plantations that use the river systems for cultivation, hosting abundant wildlife and maintaining unique cultural heritage. The outing will feature a tour of one of the primary plantations of the ACE Basin, with a focus on the management of plantation impoundments and the use of these areas by shorebirds.

Life on an Un-fished Artificial Reef
            Date: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 6 p.m.
            Speaker: Mike Arendt, DNR marine biologist

Principal Investigator Mike Arendt will discuss changes in the seasonal and annual occurrence of different species of fish at a small, un-fished artificial reef. Although the ability to locate and catch fish has improved over the years, often requiring stricter harvesting regulations to prevent over-fishing, natural factors also influence the ability to catch fish on a given day or time of day and should be considered when evaluating viability of fish populations. Since 1999, DNR has collaborated with researchers from Skidaway Institute of Oceanography to remotely record video observations and oceanic conditions at a ‘secret’ artificial reef. This presentation will feature video clips, which document the potential of remote underwater video to study marine life under natural conditions, as well as demonstrate the importance of oceanic conditions in determining the ability to observe, and perhaps catch, some fishes.

Birding and Tour of Bear Island, WMA
            Date: Friday, Feb. 29, morning (time to be announced)
            Speakers: Dean Harrigal, DNR wildlife biologist; Pete Laurie, naturalist and former DNR employee

Tour the Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, with an emphasis on birding. Wetland impoundments and various habitats exist within Bear Island make this area a bird watchers paradise. Participants will travel in hayride style as they are pulled in an open trailer with bench seating. Harrigal and Laurie, who are both knowledgeable on wildlife management techniques used in the area, as well as bird life found, will lead the tour.

* March:
Green Homes, Making an Energy Efficient Home
            Date: Wednesday, March 26, 6:30 p.m.
            Speaker: DNR’s Rebekah Svizak, Mike Arendt, Jason Powers and Kim Counts

With increasing energy prices and heightened concerns regarding global warming, home efficiency gains importance in our everyday lives. Join DNR employees for an evening lecture at the Marine Resources Center as they highlight simple ways to increase your home efficiency. Learn how to decrease your monthly energy bills while also acting as a good steward to the environment.

* April:  

The History of Fort Johnson
            Date: Wednesday, April 16, 6 p.m.
            Speaker: Russell Horres and Skipper Keith, local historians

Fort Johnson is located on James Island and faces the mouth of the Charleston Harbor. Today, this site is home to various state and federal agencies employing more than 500 people in the sciences. In the past, significant wartime activities took place at the Fort during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Although the famed “first shot of the Civil War” was fired from this location, Fort Johnson is often a forgotten historic site. This lecture will conclude with a walking tour of points of interest that remain on the premises.

* May:

Discovering Hammock Islands
            Date: Thursday, May 15, 10 a.m.
            Speaker: Billy McCord, DNR wildlife biologist

South Carolina is home to about 3,500 hammock islands, which lay scattered in the salt marsh behind barrier islands. McCord has conducted ecological surveys on over 130 hammock islands. This event begins with an overview of McCord’s research in the classroom at the McKenzie Field Station at Bennett’s Point in the ACE Basin, exhibiting various data and photo images from surveyed islands. The lecture will be followed with an educational cruise aboard the E/V Discovery, to take a closer look by water of a group of these hammock islands.

Animals of the Estuary
            Date: Thursday, May 29, 10 a.m.
            Speaker: DNR’s Kattie McMillan, Louis Heyward, Al Segars, Kim Counts

This event will take place aboard the E/V Discovery, traveling into the heart of the ACE Basin. We will deploy a trawl net, a miniature net like those used by commercial shrimpers, and participating speakers will identify estuarine animals caught in the trawl, as well as discuss various adaptations that allow these animals to survive in the estuary. We will also examine the significance of the salt marsh and the important role it plays to health and safety of coastal South Carolina.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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