Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jan./Feb. Birding Journal observations seeks to educate others about the simple satisfaction derived from the watching and identifying of birds. Six years of birding journal entries have helped me graduate from being a novice birdwatcher and mature into a more seasoned category of birder, and with several years on the board of the local Audubon chapter in the 1990's, I am well-rounded on all things avian. (Not to mention I now have a bird dog - who at seven months old is already 'birdy.') The spring of 2008 saw me witness a concentration of neotropical migratory songbirds that made for some great birding, and a neat article for The Charleston Mercury too. Sharing my sightings with readers in 2009 starts right here, with a recap of January and February. Hopefully, a monthly report will be a suitable format for this information, but tinkering with the format is a possibility - and comments or observations from my fellow birders are encouraged on this blog. Observations are mostly from rural Colleton County with dates (and comments) provided when pertinent.
1/10/2009 FIRST Two goldfinches (very early arrivals), also - first bluebirds checking out a nest box
1/27/09 FIRST Cedar waxwings
2/20/09 FIRST pine siskins
Jan./Feb. sightings - cardinal, mockingbird, tufted titmouse, chipping sparrow, dove, downy woodpecker, towhee, red-bellied woodpecker, white-throated sparrow, brown thrasher, hairy woodpecker, pileated woodpecker, carolina chickadee, blue jay, cooper's hawk
My photos show baby mockingbirds from spring 2008, a very large version of a painted bunting ha, ha (actually, its a lorikeet from my trip to Australia in 2006 to visit friend Carly Nichols), and Chester the English Setter acting birdy in a field edge.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Seen any Swallow-Tailed Kites!?

The swallow-tailed kite (SWTK) is a most distinguished looking bird, thanks to Tera Baird with USFWS and photographer Lynn Hackell for the image. This bird is a raptor and is fond of hunting things like snakes, but is more likely to be spotted when they soar overhead. Not to be confused with Mississippi kites, the SWTK has the scissor-like tail feathers and distinctive black and white markings. has noticed more and more kites passing through and summering in South Carolina in the last five years than usual. It is likely they have selected our state as a suitable area due to our excellent habitat. If you see a kite you are asked to contact the South Carolina Working Group for Swallow-tailed Kites which are monitoring their distribution, nesting and foraging areas in order to find out how to conserve the habitat that they are utilizing. The Savannah River floodplain, the ACE Basin, the Francis Marion National Forest and the Pee Dee River system are all good places to spot a SWTK. To report a sighting click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2008 Alligator season round-up

The inaugural 2008 alligator hunting season results are in, and it was such a success SCDNR is all set to hold it again in 2009! In the midst of an economic downturn the alligator season proved to be a boom for both taxidermists and  gator meat processors. South Carolina hunters took 362 alligators from 13 different counties with the biggest alligators coming from the Midlands area. The most alligators were taken from the middle and coastal hunt units, but the midlands earned the bragging rights with the largest gator harvested, a Lake Marion specimen that measured 13 feet 7 inches! The midlands had 45 gators harvested that were 10 feet or longer, including 21 gators that were over 12-feet in length. Only 1000 gator harvest permits were issued in 2008, and hunters paid $100 for the right to tangle with the prehistoric-looking creature. A series of alligator hunting seminars will be held in 2009 to go over proper hunting techniques and regulations for the upcoming season, with applications available starting May 1st, and the permit drawing taking place in June. The photo shows that Michael Cordray of CorDray's Processing in Ravenel, S.C. knows what to do with a front-end loader when customers bring him an 800-pound alligator to process. Thanks to Michelle DeMaio for the photo.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Colleton County Soil and Water Conservation District

The Soil and Water Conservation districts share a partnership with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and each county has their own district and commissioners. Since "uncle" I.M. Benton is the chairman of the Colleton County district, I decided to attend their planning meeting for their annual banquet, held to grant student conservation awards and to educate their affiliate members about conservation in the county. Reverand Gerald Mabry, an avid deer hunter and prescribed fire advocate, gave the invocation saying "Colleton County has bountiful natural resources and we ask your blessings that our decisions might benefit the citizens of the county." Jennifer Majors is a program coordinator with the Land, Water and Conservation Division of SCDNR. She attends the district meetings in Jasper, Beaufort and Colleton counties. Majors told the district commissioners that Ken Rentiers was the new deputy chief of her divsion, having completed his term as chief of the S.C. Farm Service Agency (FSA). Fred Tritapoe, agent for the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), reported on projects involving longleaf pine plantings, inspection of the Willow Swamp watershed, establishment of field strip buffers and GPS mapping for private landowner projects. Stewardship week activities include a tour of Broxton Bridge plantation, and the banquet on April 28, where the Lowcountry Open Land Trust will speak about their 2008 conservation easement on the 12,000 acre Brosnan Forest, which is part of the ACE Basin Focus Area. Student photo and poster competitions will be a major focus of the banquet, since the Colleton conservation district seeks to educate youth about our natural world. The blog photos depict a wild azalea during spring bloom in front of the longleaf pines that Brosnan Forest is well known for, and the causeway at Brosnan that welcomes visitors to enjoy the view across the fishing ponds.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Forest Landowners Association Conference Call

At 2 p.m. today the Forest Landowner's Association (FLA) will be a conducting a Governmental Affairs Forestry Policy conference call that is open to all members and forestry allies. The conference call will be a beginner's guide to government affairs such as renewable energy, climate change, tax policy, environmental regulation and trade. Landowners interested in lobbying their issues at the federal level will find this conference call very beneficial. The phone number to call is 800.977.8002 and when prompted, enter code 582240# to be added to the conference call. Scott P. Jones, Executive VP of the FLA testified last week before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Renewable Resources about the definition of "wood" from private forests as it affects future timber sales. Jones said, "Congress must allow American private forest landowners access to emerging energy markets in parity with other sources, as they consider all energy initiatives."
For more information about the FLA, consult the Internet at The photo depicts a southern pine forest - will it be sold as a renewable resource for the production of responsible biofuel energy? 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Landowner chores and rewards

Landowners have a lot of goals in February, chief of which is to burn woods with prescribed fire. There is always a premium on days when forest managers can actually burn due to rain or high wind conditions - resulting in a red flag or no burn day from the South Carolina Forestry Commission. Providing food for wild game is foremost in the landowners mind, and prescribed fire helps to replenish the available browse in the forest because the burned material acts like fertilizer for the new growth, which will arrive in spring. (or late February.... as redbuds are out, forsythia is out and pear trees are blooming). The heads on some Lowcountry wild turkeys are already bright red...... but I digress. Other chores associated with forage for game animals includes discing of fields, food plots and even random strips through the woods ahead of the spring ritual of planting seed and letting mother nature grow corn, sorghum and more. The last of winter is cold and chain saw work for firewood is another chore that is completed, and is mostly looked forward to - as long as your chain stays sharp.
An early rise gets the daily chores started and it may be cold out (it was 25 degrees Saturday morning!) but that is no reason to wait, for if the chores get done then there may be time to take advantage of the last remaining days of quail season, and what better pursuit in late February then letting bird dogs revel in the virtuous task that they were bred for - pointing the bobwhite quail. A baker's dozen quail in the game bag can feed a family, and there is no measuring the benefits that it brought to the Lowcountry outdoorsman's body and soul. The photos show two brittany spaniels on point with noses almost aligned, two double guns and a bountiful bobwhite harvest, and Gentleman Bob in the sunlight of a late February afternoon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lowcountry Counties enter Incipient Drought

The S.C. Drought Committee met today and declared that 16 counties along the coast and in the PeeDee Region be added to incipient drought status. These same counties had previously been listed in the no drought category. Nine counties in the Upstate saw their status go unchanged, remaining in the extreme drought category. Hope Mizzell, S.C. state climatologist, addressed the DNR Board on February 13 and said that La Nina conditions persist and that the three-month forecast for the coastal plain is higher than normal temperatures and lower than normal rainfall amounts. Lowcountry farmers already know that the dry conditions will make  it tough for them again this year, just like in 2008. When the spring woodlands blossom and come to life they tend to drink up most of the standing water, and there does not seem to be much of that this year after light winter rains. Darryl Jones with the S.C. Forestry Commission said, "Given the forecast, I think we can expect greater forest fire activity and this increase can be attributed to the dry fuels resulting from the drought." Thanks to SCDNR for the drought map.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SCDNR Shooting Sports Field Day Report

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources hosted the South Carolina 4-H program and the Salkehatchie Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association for an introduction to the shooting sports field day on February 7. The shooting fun ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Palachucola WMA Shooting Range in Hampton County, adjacent to the Webb Center. The event offered instruction on archery and firearms for those interested in the shooting sports. SCDNR officers and other professionals provided the safety training and the individual shooting instruction with shotguns, 22.-caliber rifles and archery equipment. The firearms, ammunition, targets and bows were provided free of charge for those who did not want to bring their own. No high-powered rifles were allowed on the range during the event that focused on mentoring those who are new to the shooting sports. The event was well attended and kids of all ages enjoyed their time on the shooting range. Thanks to Jeff Hunt at for the photos. The photos depict an SCDNR officer offering expert advice to a young female shooter, a youth trying to break tandem targets on the gun range, and SCDNR technician David Tant helping with the youngest of bow shooters.

Monday, February 16, 2009

2009 SEWE Bud Gun Winner

Budweiser beer and Pearlstine Distributers sold out their two-gun raffle again in 2009. At $100 a ticket, the $10,000 total raised goes directly to the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition to aid their efforts to bring great programs and wildlife art to Charleston each year. Lucky Charleston resident Michael Ebert won the 2009 Bud Gun drawing and selected the 20-gauge Browning Citori over and under shotgun with the Bud engraving. His wife Kristian is shown with the shotgun while Michael is holding the Remington 700 30.06 Mountain Rifle that he also won in the drawing. Thanks to Larry Lipov for the photograph. A salute goes to Budweiser for supporting the outdoors in the Lowcountry.

To view more blog entries from 2009 SEWE click here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday at SEWE

Sunday at the Southeastern Wildlife Expostion means two things to most patrons, either you need to get to a venue that you have not seen yet, or you can go back and visit a favorite location and try to make your best deal. Artists have been known to look for "gas money" just before they pack up their wares, i.e. they don't want to take all their items back home. The finals of the Dock Dogs competition was jumped in windy and cold conditions down at Brittlebank Park, but the crowds were still thick with patrons and all their pet dogs. The same could be said for Marion Square Park, as their was a throng of visitors enjoying the outdoors, even though it was cloudy and cool. The Marriott Hotel was the setting for most of the photography SEWE had to offer, and the many wonderful images captured and now on display for all to see, make those who love the outdoors even more amazed at what animals do. The sporting arms room was full of fine double guns that spoke volumes about the sporting traditions of hunting, and many new guns and accessories were available too. The decoy collectors had many customers asking all the right questions about age and authenticity plus they were selling old hunting magazines, vintage turkey calls even deer antlers. With the end of the 2009 Southeastern Wildlife Exposition there is always one universal question - When can we do it again? The photos depict Bruce Earnshaw, owner of Cassina Point on Edisto (which recently had a conservation easement placed on it - view blog entry from 2/9) and his collectible decoys, the beautiful ironwork of Black Shadow deerstands, artist Marty Biernbaum at the Charleston Artist Guild Painting Demo Station sharing her love for the acrylic medium, the Dakota Arms' rifles and Cape Buffalo displayed by Gulf Breeze Firearms, and last but not least the antique shotgun shell box that was pleased to purchase.

To view past blog entries from 2009 SEWE click here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday at SEWE

Saturday is traditionally the busiest day at the Wildlife Expo, and since this year it also falls on Valentine's Day, the crowds were loving their wildlife art. There was no such love for the weather though, as colder temperatures and spotty rain showers dampened some spirits. My SCDNR friend on duty at the Gaillard Auditorium, Lisa Walters, told me that the Saturday traffic was more than double Friday's traffic, likely due to patrons heading to the indoor venues. It was a fine day to stay close to one of the three VIP rooms at Charleston Place, The Mills House and the Marriott while viewing their respective paintings, sculptures and fine double guns. For those checking out the custom knives and one-of-a-kind home furnishings at the Gaillard, don't forget to eat at the Gaillard Cafe to enjoy their Shrimp Gumbo and cornbread with a sweet tea. One patron asked me if the shrimp gumbo was any good, and I replied that it only gets better every year! (Just like SEWE) Later in the day, while on a dog walk in Cannon Park, two SEWE patrons asked me where the dog jumping was, thinking they had found Brittlebank Park - but I informed them Cannon Park was what locals call the Dog Park, and that while I could provide directions, they would likely need a cab. The lecture series at SEWE is always good during inclement weather and Gilbert Johnston's lecture on the scientific art of natural history left patrons thankful for those that cataloged the varied species of the Carolinas when they were "discovered."  The 2009 SEWE Conservation Message Award Winner was Noel Clarkson, age 10 from Waccamaw Elementary (teacher Mandy Hawley) who said, "Now is the time to take care of the environment; if we don't then who will." Saturday night's big event, the SEWE Soiree is always looked forward to for its wild game fare. The photos show Gilbert Johnston and one of his antique nature prints, the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest winner by Weston DeWolff (age 15), Knifemaker Bob Cumming ( with his nephew Josh Ciappa celebrate 10 years of showing at SEWE, a school of redfish circling in the air from artist Glen Purdy, and Marc Ackerman receiving the 2008 Camp Woodie Volunteer of the Year Award from SCWA's David Wielecki.

To view past blog entries from 2009 SEWE click here.

2009 Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast with SEWE

The 12th Annual East Cooper Chapter Southeastern Wildlife Expostion Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast took place on Friday the 13th at the Charleston Visitor Center Bus Shed. Young and old alike gathered together to enjoy the fellowship around the oyster table, and to dream of winning one of the many raffles, silent and live auction items. Everyone participated in other dining as well on barbecue, shrimp and grits, hush puppies, slaw and washed it all down with the huge open bar while listening to the live band. Many dedicated Ducks Unlimited volunteers, wearing red name tags, gave their time to make this event a success, and they deserve a rather large thank you. The pick of the litter raffle drew lots of interest, with one lucky winner picking an item off the live auction before it even began! People sat on chairs and stood close to watch the auctioneer drive his price home, while reminding bidders that all of the money goes to save ducks! This oyster roast may be the biggest DU event in the Southeast and it has helped to place the East Cooper Chapter in the top 1% of DU chapters in the world - Congrats. No doubt thousands of dollars were raised to improve waterfowl habitat, but awareness was also raised for the purpose and mission of Ducks Unlimited. Who can wait for the 13th edition!?
Photos depict the artwork for the 2009 DU Oyster Roast, Life Sponsors Nick Thompson (1984) and Bill Short (2007) chat after an introduction from the DU State Publicity Chairman, The Ducks Unlimited Wheel of Fortune, two puppies for the live auction and their adoring fans, and Shera Brown and B.J. Smoak from the Walterboro DU Chapter.

For past blog entries from SEWE 2009 click here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

First full day at the Wildlife Expo

Friday the thirteenth brought good luck for those who attended the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition on Day One because the weather was excellent. Demonstrations with retrievers, birds of prey, fly fishers, and even cast nets were all good activities to get outdoors, and why not remember to bring along your dog. Marion Square Park and Brittlebank Park are dog-friendly venues during SEWE, and owners love to show off their Boykins, Labs and English Setters. The Sporting Village at Brittlebank offers hunts to Africa and other remote areas, alongside hunting trips inside South Carolina. Want to buy some land? The Sporting Village seems to have every type of agent necessary to set up your own private hunting retreat. The Conservation tents at Marion Square Park are free to visitors wanting to learn more about National Wildlife Refuges, canoe trips, and even forestry programs. Marion Square is also home to good food like 82 Queen's creamy grits with barbecue shrimp topped with cheddar cheese and bacon bits, and A.W. Shuck's bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp over red rice. Quite a large gathering of onlookers assembled at lunchtime at Marion Square and old friends became familiar once again. The photos depict the unusual warm weather on Friday that saw College Of Charleston sunbathers out in full force, two Harris hawks on their perch after a tandem hunt where the birds launched from the top of Embassy Suites and snagged a "rabbit" for gathered fans, DNR's Blaik Pulley, Kattie McMillan and Kim Counts show the shark jaw that they use for educational purposes at SEWE, a Dock Dog competitor appears to clear the Holiday Inn, and Center for Birds of Prey foreman Steven Schabel with a Peregrine falcon.

To view past blog entries from 2009 SEWE click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SEWE Preview Night Gala and Sale

Thursday night saw the traditional Black Tie celebration at Charleston Place Hotel that serves to jump start the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. The featured artist Thomas Brooks was on hand to discuss his love of painting birds, but especially wild turkeys and stooping hawks. Many other powerful artists are assembled in the hall, and were hopeful that the big spenders were out that night, following the preview afternoon that ran from 1 to 5 p.m. Besides the wildlife fellowship, the aroma of catered food that hung in the air made one linger and digest the artwork being viewed. A live auction fetched thousands of dollars for prints, duck decoys, trips and one-of-a-kind-knives, and was preceeded by Sydney Free blowing her competition duck call routine. (The same one that won her the Women's World Duck Calling Championship in Stuttgart, Arkansas in 2006 and 2008!) The entire evening was such a wonderful success that first time visitors had a hard time comparing it to anything else they had attended. In fact, Thursday night at SEWE is one of the premiere events that Charleston hosts every year! The Wildlife Expo began a new tradition this year when it commissioned a Caesar Guerini 20-guage shotgun to be engraved with the SEWE logo. It was flown in from Italy this week, and the raffle ticket price is $150, and may be purchased at Charleston Place all weekend. The Pearlstine/Budweiser raffle for a sporting shotgun and rifle is also ongoing, and the price for a raffle ticket is only $100. With an eye to the first full day of SEWE, it was announced that the final schedule for the Dock Dogs competition at Brittlebank Park was posted on the website at The "Living with Wolves" presentation at the Gaillard Auditorium is sure to be a fun event for kids, and after meeting Jim and Jamie Dutcher Thursday night I know their account of living with wolves will be a gripping story.  Friday activities wind down with the Ducks Unlimited oyster roast at the Visitors Center Bus Shed, and for those who like to shop their will be a King Street Stroll from 6 to 8 p.m. The Ducks Unlimited event starts at six and goes until all the auction items are sold, and traditionally brings in DU volunteers from all across the Southeast. The pictures depict SEWE's Caeser Guerinii shotgun, S.C. Department of Agriculture Chairman Hugh Weathers and wife Blanche, Chip and Missy (dressed in red) Ervin chatting about the etchings of Riley Bradham that will be on display at Grady Ervin Co. on Saturday, and Bryan Miller and Larry Lipov by the Bud custom shotgun display.

To view past blog entries from 2009 SEWE click here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Charleston welcomes SEWE artists

With a high wind advisory blowing through the magnolias, live oaks and palmetto trees of the Charleston peninsula, the twenty-seventh annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition opened with the Featured Artist's Reception at the Mills House Hotel downtown on Meeting Street. Featured artist Thomas Brooks grew up near Green Swamp, Florida and does most of his painting these days while traveling through Florida and the Carolinas. Brooks said, "I paint wading birds the most, and I have hundreds of photographs of turkeys." Brooks added that he does not depict alligators much, even though they infest the swamps of Florida. Brooks has never harvested an Osceola turkey, found only in Florida, but he is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation and has found success hunting in the S.C. Lowcountry at Gallivant's Ferry. The Benefactors and Patrons that came out Wednesday night were treated to a wild game feast that included southern fried quail, alligator fritters, wild boar cranberry sausage, smoked duck sausage, carolina crab cakes, wild boar barbecue and caviar new potatoes.
Ernie Muehlmatt from Salisbury, Maryland is a sculpter who displays his art at the Mills house during SEWE, and this year is the 26th year (out of 27) that he has participated! Muehlmatt said, "I have been sculpting 50 years and its a fun way to make a living." He lives on the water and makes a point to go fishing every day, where he has become familiar with the presence of the osprey, or fish hawk. Muehlmatt has been commissioned to produce a life size bald eagle sculpture for President George W. Bush in 2004, and also made a special Easter egg for Nancy Reagan, in time for the annual White House Easter egg roll. When the artist was approached by sisters Kelly and Karen Bieganousky (pronounced Biganuski) he asked them to identify the bird in a certain print, and when they correctly guessed Carolina Chickadee, he awarded them with the artwork. The two MUSC nurses were very grateful and could not believe their good fortune, because even though they were SEWE veterans, his generosity was uncommon. The pictures show Callie and Walter Smith and the SEWE ice sculpture, artist Ernie Muehlmatt and his osprey carving, Kelly and Karen Bieganousky with a special print, a red-headed woodpecker (Sold!) by carver Chuck Robertson of Linvaill Falls, N.C., and media magnates Steve Judy, Robert Smith, Rick Howze and Steve Cordina sharing a laugh.

For a past blog entry on 2009 SEWE click here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Camo Coalition Lobby Day & Inaugural Legislative Alert

The South Carolina Camo Coalition, whose charter meeting was in February 2008, issued their inaugural "Legislative alert" this week in support of future funding for the S.C. Conservation Bank. Before avid followers can utilize the alert to vouch for the conservation bank to the Ways and Means Committee members, I want to point out that careful planning on the part of the Camo Coalition Board is paying off. Nineteen member organizations that represent hunting and fishing conservation groups have agreed to speak with one voice to S.C. legislators where natural resources conservation is concerned. The Camo coalition has contracted with the "voter voice" company to use sportsmen's e-mails to contact legislators on select issues. When you register to send your message regarding the conservation bank funding, your e-mail information will be captured for future legislative alerts, but don't worry, you can always opt out at any time. The system is "working" and since the alert was issued on February 6, we know of 80 responses that have gone to numerous legislators. Leaving no stone unturned, the camo coalition also held a lobby day at the General Assembly on February 10, speaking with legislators about the conservation bank, clean water bills, and appropriate funding for SCDNR and the S.C. Forestry Commission. The Camo coalition is working for sportsman already, and all they ask in return is that concerned voters register their e-mails and take part in these legislative alerts from time to time. is run by a Camo coalition founder, someone who spoke up during the formation process for the word "Camo" (others preferred "green", etc.), because we don't need to hide the fact that we enjoy our natural resources. Those that utilize the outdoors of S.C. are the ones that will fight to protect them, and it is through our strength in numbers and level of commitment that we will succeed. The photos depict camo writer Jeff Dennis and Representative Ted Vick on the floor of The South Carolina House of Representatives on Feb. 10, 2009 and Mr. Dennis and Rep. Vick (co-chair of the S.C. Sportsmen's Caucus) in a duck blind after a successful hunt in 2008.

To start making a difference right now for S.C. quality of life, please click on the camo link to support the future funding of the S.C. Conservation Bank.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lowcountry Open Land Trust - 2009 Annual Meeting

The LOLT 2009 Annual Meeting was held at the Charleston Yacht Club on Feb. 9, with easement recipients in attendance from all corners of the Lowcountry. The President of the LOLT Board Scott Barnes called the meeting to order with a recap of 2008, stating that no less than  18 easements had been established covering more that 19,000 acres. After its first 23 years of existence,  LOLT currently monitors 227 properties totaling over 76,000 acres! The 2009 conservation campaign will start with a new board-approved strategic plan set to last the next five years. Special recognition was made for those who departed the Lowcountry in 2008 including Mrs. Pepper (Botany Bay), Mr. Rutledge Moore (Davant) and Mrs. Nancy Hawk, a past president of LOLT. Treasurer Sam Hiott reported that 2008 was not a banner year for fundraising, but that an operating reserve served its purpose by covering all budget shortfalls. Most LOLT funding comes from grants, business sponsorships and private donations.
Executive Director Will Haynie gave a rundown of each property that granted an easement in 2008, with Lewis Hay serving as "color commentator." The first property protected in 2008 was 332 acres known as Ravens Point Plantation, owned by Mike and Gigi McShane. With a peninsula of high ground that is situated between New Cut Creek and Church Creek, this easement protects vital saltwater habitat on John's Island. Frank and Nina Burke gave an easement on 374 acres at Ravenwood Plantation, land that is situated at the headwaters of Chessey Creek in Colleton County. In Jasper County, two large easements were granted on Good Hope Plantation (2000 acres) and on Hoover Plantation (2,354 acres). But the grandaddy of all easements came from Dorchester County where the Norfolk Southern Corporation donated an easement of 12,488 acres on their Brosnan Forest acreage. Mr. Hay told the crowd that the easement was in the works for three years, and the project code name was "the Big B." Likely the largest corporate donation ever in the state of S.C., Brosnan Forest also preserves dwindling longleaf pine habitat and is home to an astonishing 79 family groups of the endangered Red-cockaded woodpeckers. Brosnan Forest manager Joel Wells was on hand to collect their cedar blue bird house, a token of thanks LOLT gives to all its easement donors. Finally, Nick and Marie Thompson donated a conservation easement on their 21 acres of land on Wadmalaw Island, with plans to preserve it as a wildlife sanctuary. While not the largest easement, the Thompson's demonstrate that we are all in this together, and that every little bit of conservation adds up to help preserve quality of life in the Lowcountry. Photos depict LOLT staffers Barbara Holmes, Lewis Hay and Lisa Shealy, the 2008 class of easement donors, and Mr. and Mrs. Thompson with their bluebird box.