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Edisto Land Trust Continues Conservation Outreach

Jeff Dennis is a
Lowcountry native.
Read his blog at
LowcountryOutdoors.com

The Back to Nature program of the Edisto Island Open Lad Trust (EIOLT) brought Dr. Richard Porcher to Edisto on July 15 for a Saturday morning lecture. The meeting was held at the Edisto Island State Park Environmental Learning Center, providing an air-conditioned setting for the capacity crowd. EILOT Director John Girault welcomed both members and guests, including a contingent of volunteers from nearby Botany Bay WMA, to hear Porcher speak about the Lowcountry landscape of the sea islands of the Lowcountry. The Back to Nature program of the Edisto Island Open Lad Trust (EIOLT) brought Dr. Richard Porcher to Edisto on July 15 for a Saturday morning lecture. The meeting was held at the Edisto Island State Park Environmental Learning Center, providing an air-conditioned setting for the capacity crowd. EILOT Director John Girault welcomed both members and guests, including a contingent of volunteers from nearby Botany Bay WMA, to hear Porcher speak about the Lowcountry landscape of the sea islands of the Lowcountry. Dr. Porcher is a botanist, retiring after a 30-year teaching career at the The Citadel, to focus on conservation in the field and to publish two books on Wildflowers and Sea Island Cotton. “Today’s lecture is in support of another book I am working on to document how the landscape is continuously evolving since the arrival of mankind and large scale agriculture practices,” said Porcher. “While Indigo production was significant in the Lowcountry, it was Sea Island Cotton that became so valuable that the wealth it brought to planters and their families essentially funded the building of the city of Charleston.” “In 1852 the entire island of Edisto was planted in Sea Island cotton,” said Porcher. “It is said that one could stand on the back side of Edisto Island and look toward the beach and see the ocean, because the landscape was flat for ag practices.” Another part of Edisto Island’s history is that the planters used to live at a beachfront colony called Edingsville Beach, which was located near Frampton’s Inlet, but was wiped off the map and left underwater after a major hurricane. “Rice became the next cash crop in the sea island agricultural history,” said Porcher. “At the high point there was 150K acres of tidal ricefields at work in the Lowcountry, and we are still not sure about the total number of acres used for inland rice production. Today the tidal rice fields are in differing states since some of them have not been maintained and mother nature is reclaiming them over time, creating vibrant plant communities. Those who love nature recognize that these areas are some of the best when it comes to habitat for wading birds and avian life.” “Of course Native Americans played a role in the area too and Pig Island near Edisto bears evidence of their use of oysters,” said Porcher. “The oyster shell ring and oyster shell midden found there remain visible today, and botanists appreciate the plants that thrive in this calcium-rich environment.” Porcher plans for his next book to include the sum of his observations in the natural world, melding them into an environmental manifesto about the ecosystems of the Lowcountry. The EIOLT community will welcome Dr. Porcher back to the island when his book is published. The summer of 2017 has been busy for the Edisto land trust, holding its major fundraiser recently, and also announcing its latest conservation initiative. Dubbed the cocktail party of the summer, EIOLT supporters came together at the Edisto Civic Center on June 16 for an evening of food and fun, while making sure to dig deep when it came to bidding on silent and live auction items. The next day, the Tomato Open golf tournament at the Plantation course, giving EIOLT another avenue to invite members to both donate funds and participate in fellowship. It was during the June 16 auction when Director Girault revealed to members that EIOLT had purchased a historic house on Edisto Island that is in need of repairs and protection. The Hutchinson House project required a significant loan for EIOLT and they are now asking for financial support from the community. This latest undertaking shows that more places than just majestic marshy vistas are coming into focus for the conservation group, which has already achieved significant preservation of Edisto Island for future generations.
Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (305 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com