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September 26, 2008

Coastal Explorations Series offers fall opportunities in Lowcountry

S.C. Department of Natural Resources is once again hosting an event series in the Lowcountry for the public this fall, 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 and project partner employees that have knowledgeable insight into the following topics.

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. Limits are placed on the numbers of participants eligible for each event, and those interested are encouraged to register online when access is available for each event. If access to internet is not available, participants may register by contacting DNR coordinator Kim Counts, (843) 953-9354.  Locations for the Series include the Marine Resources Complex in Charleston, Botany Bay Plantation, Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, the S.C. Aquarium, Santee Coastal Reserve and Caw Caw Interpretive Center.

The Coastal Explorations Series during the fall of 2008 will continue from September through December. The events range in format from seminar, lecture, discussion, to hands-on identification and field outings. 

* October:
            Traditions in the South: Canning in the Lowcountry
            Date: Wednesday, October 8th 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
            Speaker: Steve Dowdney, local author
            Participants will learn from local expert and author of Putting Up (a how-to book that includes a collection of local canning recipes) about the canning traditions found in the Lowcountry. Dowdney will discuss the history of the tradition, including the numerous canneries that once existed in S.C. as             well as provide a demonstration with one of his fall favorites, Sweet Potato Butter. This event will be held at the Marine Resources Center in Charleston.

            Coastal Butterflies and Tagging
            Date: October 29th, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
            Speaker: DNR biologist Billy McCord
            This outing begins at the DNR's Marine Center in Charleston with a presentation by DNR biologist Billy McCord on the ecology of butterflies found along the S.C. coast. The group will also travel to the Folly Beach County Park for a demonstration on Monarch tagging. The outing will also afford opportunities to observe other butterflies, their nectar and host plants as well as other wildlife and plants.

* November:

            Marine Turtle Conservation in S.C. - a collaborative effort
            Date: Monday, November 3rd, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
            Speakers: DNR marine biologists DuBose Griffin and Mike Arendt; S.C. Aquarium biologist Kelly Thorvalson
            This event will take place at the S.C. Aquarium in Charleston. Participants will learn first-hand about efforts to protect sea turtles in S.C. This opportunity provides exposure into the existing collaborations between DNR and the S.C. Aquarium with sea turtles. DNR biologists will discuss efforts to monitor and protect sea turtles, both on nesting beaches and in the water. S.C. Aquarium biologists will speak on the efforts of the Sea Turtle Rescue Program to rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles with the goal of returning them back to the ocean. Participants will tour the sea turtle hospital at the S.C. Aquarium.

            Rice Cultivation and Gullah Heritage of the Lowcountry
            Date: Wednesday, November 12th, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
            Speakers: Donald Sweeper, Gullah historian; and Thomas Thornton, Heritage Interpreter for Caw Caw Interpretive Center
            The culture and identity of the Lowcountry is largely defined by the prosperous rice plantations of the past and the people who cultivated them. This event focuses on methods used to grow rice as well as the Gullah culture in Lowcountry S.C. Participants will visit former inland-swamp rice fields that have remained largely unchanged at Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel. The group will learn from Sweeper about the ability of the Gullah culture to survive through time with songs, storytelling, foods and folklore. Thornton will discuss methods used in maintaining rice impoundments.
* December:

            Birding at Santee Coastal Reserve
            Date: Wednesday, December 3rd, 9 a.m. to noon
            Speakers: DNR wildlife biologists Felicia Sanders and Jamie Rader
            Hosted at the DNR's Santee Coastal Reserve property, this event will offer an array of opportunities for birders. The group will first visit a longleaf pine ecosystem, home to the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and many other rare birds. A short walk will follow on a cypress pond boardwalk. Participants will then embark on an open-air wagon ride to view rice impoundments and marsh areas that inhabit Santee Coastal Reserve, where many waterfowl species can be seen.

For additional information on the Coastal Explorations Series, contact DNR Coordinator, Kim Counts at the Marine Resources Center, at (843) 953-9354, or CountsK@dnr.sc.gov.

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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