Thursday, October 31, 2019

2019 Edisto River Basin Fall Round Up

Neil Kurtz, Landon Seigler and Maddie Kemp
The Edisto Watersports and Tackle annual redfish tournament scheduled for Saturday October 19 was postponed one day by Tropical Storm Nestor. Twenty-four fishing teams competed on Sunday for cash prizes and bragging rights. Anglers could weigh in any two redfish that were within the slot limit between 15 and 23-inches, and the heaviest aggregate weight wins. Captain Landon Seigler claimed first place with a total weight of 8.29-pounds of redfish, with Captain Corey McMillan taking second with 8.21-pounds and Captain Roy Brazell in third with 7.98-pounds. Captain Roy Brazell also took home awards for redfish with the most spots, and the biggest trout. Captain Jeremy Parsons weighed in the heaviest single redfish at 4.45-pounds.

Happy Halloween!
The South Carolina drought response committee met on Thursday October 31. The below normal rainfall and high temperatures have caused a steady drop in streamflow, groundwater and lake levels. According to SCDNR hydrologist Priyanka More, several groundwater gages in the Upstate dropped to below normal levels for the first time, demonstrating how the range of drought is growing. The SCDHEC water monitoring division is reporting no issues with water demands from lakes and rivers. Agricultural irrigation continues during drought conditions, raising the question about depletion of aquifers, an issue that remains on the minds of those that live in the Edisto River Basin.   

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources just announced a public meeting in Blackville on November 18 to educate citizens on a new plan to guide water usage in the coming decades. Surface and groundwater needs will only increase in the future and the SCDNR wants to engage volunteers and activists interested in serving on a council that will develop and implement these guidelines in the Edisto River Basin. The meeting in Blackville will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Clemson University Edisto Research and Education Center.

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian

To view past blog entries about the Edisto River click on Edisto River BookACE Basin 25th Anniversary - Kayak Trip - Gator Hunt - Saltwater Paddling Trail

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Box Turtles in Peril From Black Market Madness

Several box turtles confiscated by SCDNR
A law enforcement arrest of an illegal box turtle smuggler in South Carolina crawled to the top of the headlines in September. The Eastern box turtle is commonly found in the Southeast and is usually ubiquitous with people as one of the friendliest wildlife species to encounter in the wild. The equation that tempts this illegal trade remains in place today, a combination of global demand from Asia and inadequate laws protecting this species in South Carolina. The Turtle Survival Alliance based in Charleston advocates to change the current laws, or face a landscape devoid of the beloved box turtle.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources reports that 200 box turtles were in the possession of the smuggling operation based in Chester County. Since box turtles are not usually found in high concentrations, it is particularly alarming to find such a high number of box turtles ready for smuggling. The questions raised from this bust include how many other smugglers are out there, what is number of people that are scooping up box turtles for pay, and what can be done to prevent box turtles from being harvested from any protected properties that are open to the public.

Will Dillman is a herpetologist with the SCDNR. “We know this illegal trade is going on and we are beginning to catch more of the offenders,” said Dillman. “Box turtles are a part of the International pet trade, food trade and medicinal trade. Other turtle species are in peril too, but the more colorful and ornate the turtle, the higher the black market price in Asia. A longtime cultural affinity for turtles in Asia has driven many of their own turtle species past the brink of sustainability, and they have the disposable income that is fueling global demand.”

Jordan Gray is the Communications Coordinator for the Turtle Survival Alliance. “We were founded in 2001 in Texas and then established a Turtle Survival Center in 2013 in the Lowcountry and moved our headquarters to South Carolina,” said Gray. “We work with 118 species of turtles and tortoises around the world including the Top 20 endangered turtles. The illegal trade of the Eastern box turtle is a hot topic right now and South Carolina is at the epicenter of much of the discussion.”

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ragan and Massey Forage and Food Plot Talk

Timmy Beton introduces the speaker from Ragan and Massey
The products of a seed and fertilizer company based in Louisiana are present in Walterboro at Benton’s Feed and Seed Store. Steven Meadows is a salesman for Ragan and Massey who resides in York, South Carolina. On Monday September 30 Meadows addressed local planters and cattlemen at the Walterboro Farmer’s Market. Clemson Extension’s Marion Barnes followed up with a talk about the components of soil, and how soil information is critical for maximizing forage growth.
Speaker Marion Barnes Talked About Soil Types
A packed house of attendees gathered at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy fellowship, a meal, and to swap stories about just how hot and how dry the weather has been in September, which greatly hinders plans to plant any seed. Host Timmy Benton gave the invocation and then everyone enjoyed eating dinner from a large metal pot filled with chicken bog. The main course was rounded out with a pot of green beans with sides of sweet tea and banana pudding, served with a smile by Sandra and Michelle Benton.

Just as Meadows stepped in front of the room to speak and give a slideshow presentation, a forecasted 20-percent chance of rain came to fruition outside. A crack of thunder was soon followed by a pouring rain that pounded the roof of the Farmer’s Market so loud that it suddenly hard to hear the speaker. A collection of muted cheers and spontaneous relief washed across the room as the hard rain brought promise to everyone in the room that their own piece of turf in Colleton County would also be receiving some much needed rain.

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian

To view past blog entries on Food Plots click GameKeepers

To view past blog entries on Marion Barnes click Beginner Farmers

Monday, October 14, 2019

Four Pilot Whales Strand on Edisto Beach

A Pilot Whale stranded on Edisto Beach on Sept. 28
Not long after dawn on Saturday September 28 beach walkers found four pilot whales stranded on Edisto Beach. Edisto’s police Chief George Brothers received a phone call at 7:03 a.m. regarding the stranded pilot whales, and was on the scene within minutes. Chief Brothers notified SCDNR, NOAA and the relatively new Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (LMMN). Around 10 a.m. a veterinarian associated with the LMMN was on the scene and proceeded to euthanize the pilot whales that were suffering on the beach.
“When I arrived on the scene, each one of the four whales was still alive,” said Edisto Police Chief George Brothers. “The group consisted of two bigger ones, maybe about 15-feet in length and two smaller ones that I assume were calves. This was a new experience on Edisto Beach and I certainly appreciate all the people that came out to try and comfort the pilot whales. Some brought umbrellas to shade the pilot whales, and many brought buckets to transport water in an effort to keep the whales calm and cool. It was a community effort.”
The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network was founded in 2017 by marine biologist Lauren Rust. They protect marine mammals like dolphins and whales that are present in South Carolina waters. The LMMN hopes to increase awareness about marine mammals and is a part of the S.C. Marine Mammal Stranding Network that operates under a letter of authorization by the NOAA Fisheries arm of the federal government. Marine mammals are protected by law under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the LMMN exists in order to coordinate pertinent activities when a stranding occurs like the one on Edisto Beach.

To view the entire feature story in the newspaper click on Colletonian

To view past blog entries from Edisto in 2019 click on Edisto Billfish TourneyACE Basin AppreciationDolphin Slam - Jim Bost Memorial - Sea Turtle Nesting

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Large Wildfire in NW Colleton Requires Six Dozers

Scott Ulmer surveys the wildfire
Despite tropical weather systems that pass close to the South Carolina coast, the month of September has brought hot and dry conditions to much of the state. Readers of the Colletonian recall the August 12 declaration of incipient drought, and on September 18 Colleton County was upgraded to a moderate stage of drought. A larger than average 138-acre wildfire burned through a rural area in Northwest Colleton County last week, requiring fast action from the South Carolina Forestry Commission to plow around the fire during a day with temperatures soaring into the 90’s.
Edisto Unit Forester Pete Stuckey is a longtime S.C. Forestry Commission employee who oversees eight counties including Colleton County. “The good news from the fire on September 17 is that Fire Management Officer Scott Ulmer got on that fire quickly since he lives near the area,” said Stuckey. “Acting as the Incident Commander on the scene, Scott directed six of our bulldozer operators about where to plow and how to handle a hot fire burning through terrain that was rough and tough.”

The 138-acres wildfire crossed multiple property lines in a section of the county with no major roads between Highway 178 and McLeod Road. With many contiguous tracts of land that are under various states of active timber management, this setting was a real threat for an even wider wildfire. Many acres is this area have been bedded with heavy equipment to plant pine trees along wind rows, making it rough terrain even for a large bulldozer to plow through. With lots of younger pines in the area, it is also thick with flammable vegetation that thrives in the Lowcountry.

To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.