The laws of the land and the sea could care less about property rights

Stephanie Hunt, a former student of Dr. Orrin Pilkey, published a column for the Charleston City Paper reflecting on this year’s active hurricane season and the state of coastal development in our area. Read the article here: The laws of the land and the sea could care less about property rights.

Then, as now (though he’s now retired and “emeritus”), Pilkey preached the gospel of respecting your Mother. Mother Nature and her vast oceans have always, and will always, batter and build up, erode and accrete her shorelines. A beach is, by natural design, an ever-shifting, unstable environment, and it is sheer folly to attempt to engineer it for real estate profit. Add rising seas and stronger storms to the mix, and that folly becomes only more foolish.

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Lowcountry botanists Celie Dailey and Richard Porcher give a talk tonight for Native Plant Week

Tuesday October 17, 6:30 pm
Founder’s Hall at Charles Towne Landing
Lecture: Rediscovering the Lowcountry Landscape
Dr. Richard Porcher and Cecelia Dailey

Man and nature have shaped the Lowcountry landscape ever since Native Americans arrived eleven thousand years ago. Native Americans created calcium-rich shell middens, where a rare community, the maritime shell forest, developed. Beginning in the late 1700s, enslaved Africans banked, then cleared, 150,000 acres of tidal freshwater swamp where rice was planted. The abandoned fields today are mostly marsh communities, supporting a plethora of flora and fauna. Many acres of uplands that were cleared for agriculture today support diverse secondary forests, a community unknown before first contact, but nonetheless rich in wildlife. Coastal rivers and uplands were mined for phosphate, leaving the landscape not unlike a bomb-scarred battlefield. Introduced invasive species, like Chinese tallow tree, signal the past footsteps of man. Prescribed fires maintain the longleaf forests, our most biodiverse plant community on the coast. Today’s Lowcountry is a complex and varied landscape that offers unending investigation for the naturalist to enjoy.

Blue Spring, photograph by Cecelia Dailey

Blue Spring, photograph by Cecelia Dailey

Additional activities this week are:

Friday October 20, 5:00-9:00 pm
Native Plant Celebration at Holy City Brewing

Saturday October 21, 9:00am – noon (members can shop at 8:30!)
Fall Native Plant Sale at Charles Towne Landing
Native plant list and prices are available here: http://scnps.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/FinalPlantListWPrices-10.14.17.pdf

More information for each event can be found on our Activity Calendar: http://scnps.org/events/
and on our Facebook Page, under “Events” https://www.facebook.com/SCNPS

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Progress on sea level rise in Charleston is not happening fast enough

Battery wall, photo by Jared Bramblett

Battery wall, photo by Jared Bramblett

Photographer Jared Bramblett captured these images of the aging Battery wall that protects some of the most historic homes in the tourist district. “The deficiency of the Low Battery presents an existential threat to the 300-year old city. It is also the most striking symbol of the City of Charleston’s failure to invest adequately in storm protection, drainage and resiliency,” says Dana Beach (former director of the Coastal Conservation League). Hurricane Irma’s 4-foot surge was good news for a storm that could have been much more brutal to South Carolina. NOAA measured a 9.9 foot high tide downtown, the third highest tide on record.

The Post & Courier asks if this wake-up call will be heeded in their article “A tropical storm surge sends Charleston an urgent message: Here’s your future.” We watched the waters rise, and seep back into every landfilled creekbed and low street in the city, thankful that it was not another Hugo. Across the peninsula and on nearby islands, there is a sense of relief, but also dread–a reminder of the hazards of coastal living. Witnessing the devastation of our Caribbean islands neighbors, our hearts go out to their loss of community and way of life.

We advocate for social and environmental justice locally, by supporting our local non-profits, in the face of climate change.
Charleston Waterkeeper
Coastal Community Foundation
Coastal Conservation League
Enough Pie
South Carolina Environmental Law Project

White Point Gardens, photo by Jared Bramblett

White Point Gardens at the Battery, photo by Jared Bramblett

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