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

February 22, 2010

Coastal Explorations Series offers Lowcountry learning, adventure opportunities

The Coastal Explorations Series, hosted by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, is once again being offered for the public this spring in the Lowcountry.

The goal of the Coastal Explorations Series, free of charge since February 2007, 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 public is encouraged to register through the online calendar available. 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.

The Coastal Explorations Series during the spring will span from March through May. The events range in format from seminar, lectures, 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, or CountsK@dnr.sc.gov.

* Impoundment and Waterfowl Management on Nemours Plantation, ACE Basin
            Speaker: Dr. Ernie Wiggers (President and CEO of Nemours Wildlife Foundation)
            Date:  March 2
            Time: Tentative: 9 a.m. to early-afternoon (bring lunch)
            Location: Nemours Plantation, ACE Basin
            Capacity: 20
Event Description: 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. Wiggers will narrate the offering with a focus on the management of plantation impoundments and the use of these areas by wildlife.  Waterfowl, shorebirds, birds of prey and other bird species will be identified.

* Birding in the ACE Basin
            Speaker: Pete Laurie (former DNR employee and writer for S.C. Wildlife magazine)
            Date: March 12
            Time: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
            Location: Bear Island Wildlife Management Area and Donnelley Wildlife Management Area
            Capacity: 20
Event Description: Tour the Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, with an emphasis on birding. Wetland impoundments and various habitats exist within Bear Island which makes this area a bird watchers paradise. Participants will travel in hayride style as they are pulled in an open trailer with bench seating. Pete Laurie, knowledgeable birder, will narrate the tour. After the tour of Bear Island, any interested participants can travel thru Donnelley WMA following Pete Laurie to a couple additional birding stops.  Donnelley is a site not to be missed as participants will experience long leaf pine savannahs and additional impounded areas.  Birds to be experienced throughout the day include, but are surely not limited to, tundra swan, white pelican, bald eagle, Northern harrier, glossy ibis, and a variety of egrets, herons and waterfowl.

* Winter Shorebird Identification
            Speaker: Nathan Dias (Cape Romain Bird Observatory)
            Date: March 20 (Saturday offering)
            Time: Noon to 4 p.m.
            Location: Harbor Island
            Capacity: 15
Event Description:  Harbor Island was recently designated as part of an Important Bird Area by The Audubon Society. Join shorebird expert Nathan Dias, of the Cape Romaine Bird Observatory, at Harbor Island for a classroom and field session identifying winter shorebirds. Following the classroom session the group will venture to beach at beautiful Harbor Island to ID winter resident shorebirds. Bring binoculars (spotting scope if you have one) and dress appropriately for weather of the day. Bring your lunch, beverage you might need. If you are interested in the new photography technique called "Digiscoping," be sure to mention it and Nathan can work in some pointers and tips.

* Building a Rain Garden in Your Own Backyard: Emphasis on Full Sun Varieties and Butterfly Habitat
            Speaker: David Joyner (Clemson Extension)
            Date: March 25
            Time: 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
            Location: Fort Johnson Marine Center, DNR Outdoor Classroom
            Capacity: 30
Event Description:  Rain Gardens are utilized to promote water quality by decreasing runoff in nearby waterways.  They are crafted in such a way that is aesthetically pleasing and take advantage of native plants that can survive both very dry and very wet conditions.  What better way to learn about rain and butterfly gardens then to build one? In the fall 2009, event series participants created a part sun rain garden on Fort Johnson campus on James Island.  This event will focus on a full sun rain garden with emphasis on plants with benefits to butterflies and other forms of wildlife.  Two presentations will be given before heading outdoors, one on rain garden construction and the other on planting for butterflies.  A hands on demonstration will follow where the group will be lead through a step by step process in creating a rain/butterfly garden. All participants will receive a rain garden manual courtesy of The Clemson Extension project Carolina Clear. This is a hands-on activity; therefore, please bring gloves and appropriate shoes to be involved.  By the end of the event, the group will have built a rain garden on the Fort Johnson campus. 

* Birding in The Beidler (Headwaters of the ACE Basin)
            Speakers:  Jeff Mollenhauer (S.C. Audubon Society )
            Date:  April 26
            Time: 9 a.m. to noon
            Location: Francis Beidler National Forest
            Capacity: 30 people
Event Description: Take the boardwalk deep into Four Holes Swamp lead by Audubon experts to view resident birds and wildlife. Participants will experience old growth cypress swamp as well as some of the oldest and biggest cypress trees in the south. Some common misconceptions of swampy areas will be addressed as well as benefits these areas have to our Lowcountry. Birds that we may encounter include prothonotary warblers, yellow crowned night herons, barred owls, and pileated woodpeckers. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about a new citizens- science project, Project PROTHO, which takes a closer look at the use of forested wetlands by prothonotary warblers. 

* Discovering the ACE Basin
            Location: Depart by boat from McKenzie Field Station, ACE Basin
            Speakers:  Dr. Al Segars, Kim Counts, and Kattie McMilian
            Date: May 4
            Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Event Description: 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 examine the significance of the salt marsh and the important role it plays to health and safety of coastal South Carolina as well as economic benefits. The group will also travel to Otter Island, as part of the St. Helena Sound Heritage Preserve, to experience an undeveloped barrier island.  At this time dune and beach habitat will be discussed in this highly erosional and dynamic section of South Carolina's coast. 

* Wetlands Night Sounds
            Speaker: Tony Mills from the Lowcountry Institute at Spring Island
            Date:  May 11
            Time: 5-9 p.m.
            Location: Donnelly Wildlife Management Area
            Capacity: 20
Event Description: Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, an 8,000-acre tract of land managed by DNR, is home to diverse habitats including rice impoundments, longleaf pine forest and tidal marsh. This event, led by Tony Mills, a herpetologist with The Lowcountry Institute, will begin with a presentation highlighting a few animals that depend and thrive upon these isolated wetlands. Participants will venture out into the evening in a wagon-style vehicle, to experience the sounds of the night. As dusk settles in, the forest will come alive showcasing an array of lightening bugs, frog sounds and more. Although this event is our latest in the day, it is one not to be missed!

* Exploring Lewis Ocean Bay
            Speaker: Deanna Ruth (DNR)
            Date:  May 13
            Time: 9 a.m. to noon
            Location: Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve
            Capacity: 20
Event Description: Come explore the plethora of natural wonders that abound at Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve. A Longleaf Pine Ecosystem restoration project is currently in progress, the preserve recently planted 350 acres. Participants will learn about this forest type which once dominated the south and the characteristics that make it a unique ecosystem. We will discuss the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker while in the Longleaf, and efforts taken to assure these birds don't go extinct. The group will also experience Carolina Bays. Lewis Ocean Bay is the highest concentration of Carolina Bays in the state, 23 in all. We hope to find native orchids and carnivorous plants along the way. We will also touch on research regarding dense population of black bears present on the property.

* Hobcaw In Bloom
            Speaker: Beth Thomas (NIWB-NERR)
            Date: May 20
            Time: 9 a.m. to Noon
            Location:  North Inlet Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; Hobcaw Barony
            Capacity: 20
Event Description: Join naturalists and staff of the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve to identify some of the common spring wildflowers in bloom at Hobcaw Barony. Owned and operated by the Belle W. Baruch Foundation, Hobcaw Barony is an undeveloped 17,500 acre research reserve located on the Winyah Bay In Georgetown. Steeped in history and rich with wildlife and natural resources, the property is used for research and education on coastal ecosystems, and the Foundation provides programs on the historical significance of the property and the Baruch family's influence still seen today. The North Inlet-Winyah Bay Research Reserve is located at Hobcaw Barony, and conducts a variety of research and monitoring, education, and stewardship programs. Participants will enjoy viewing wildflowers in a variety of habitats including pine and maritime forests, cypress swamps, and salt marsh ecosystems. Other flora and fauna may also be encountered and explored. Wear comfortable (and protective) walking shoes, and bring camera, insect repellent, hat, sunscreen, water/snack, and binoculars (if desired).

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.


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