When Kiawah Island was purchased by the Kuwait Investment Company for the purpose of development and growth, an extensive environmental inventory of the island was recorded in 1975. Eventually Kiawah became locally owned again, and with the barrier island’s ecosystem already identified as extraordinary, the local residents embraced a long-term vision regarding habitat protection. Today the Kiawah Conservancy conducts outreach programs about wildlife found on the island from alligators to bobcats, and their recent shorebird symposium salutes the little brown birds that briefly stopover on their beach to rest and recover during migration.
Attending the Oct. 12 Shorebird Symposium at the Sandcastle Community Center on Kiawah Island did not involve going outside and looking for shorebirds. Rather it featured a full house of birding enthusiasts who are keen on sharing the good news that even though shorebird habitat is declining globally, the beach at Kiawah is in very good shape and is being utilized by a wide array of coastal birds. The ambitious three-hour program included lectures, a question and answer session with a panel of experts, and even the premiere of a new film titled ‘Taking Wing.’
Other facts about the Kiawah Conservancy include that 2017 marks the 20th anniversary since their founding in 1997. And their land procurement goals are getting more serious, achieving national accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance in 2017. During its 20-year history, the Kiawah Conservancy has preserved 36 properties that total over 348-acres of pristine barrier island habitat. A map of their protected properties on the Internet at www.KiawahConservancy.org shows that some properties are literally single home lots, and others are swaths of marsh and coastal zones that are precious to wildlife.
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