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ACE Basin celebrates anniversary

Colleton County’s own ACE Basin is celebrating the 25th conservation anniversary this month. As a part of this honor, the basin is being featured this month in The National Geographic’s magazine and on its website, showing how the basin promotes healthy hunting and conservation practices to keep it thriving.

In a story written by National Geographic writer and Walterboro native Franklin Burroughs, readers from across the globe are reminded that the ACE Basin is listed as one of the last most pristine places on Earth. For Burroughs, the journey back to the basin was a personal one: his story took five years to develop, having first caught his attention after he visited his hometown area years after leaving. “He was impressed with how it hadn’t really changed. It’s astounding how people have come together for hundreds of years to keep it the way it is,” said Kathryn Carlson, the National Geographic videographer and associate producer who came to Walterboro in September to capture the basin on video. Carlson is part of The National Geographic team that helped to promote the ACE Basin in the November issue. Her videos are already uploaded to The National Geographic website.

Throughout her 4-day stay in the basin and in Colleton County, Carlson went dove hunting, was guided by local Donnelly guru Dean Harrigal and learned about the Gullah heritage near Charleston. “The beauty of the basin is its nothingness…how it has stayed nothing and beautiful in that way for so long,” she said.

The basin is a melting pot for the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers, and consists of 1.1 million acres. That land is comprised of a variety of types of trees and natural habits, and brackish, fresh and salt water marshes. Broken down, the ACE Basin’s land mass if comprised of 70,089 acres of protected public lands, and 217,156 acres of private lands.

Photographed by Charleston-area native Vincent J. Musi, the basin is showcased in a spread of photographs that capture its silent beauty. “This type of story, about the basin and conservationism, is what gives me fresh energy,” she said. “It’s truly beautiful here. Conservationism works best on a full belly, as said by Dean Harrigal. That means people here locally have to continue volunteering to love this place and care for it, to protect it from the cookie-cutter world of development that it could easily become.”

Based on the history of the basin, the entire basin once stood as flooded rice fields. By the mid 1800’s, however, the rice culture in the basin began to fade and the lands began to turn into the hunting playgrounds of the wealthy. These lands have traditionally stood protected by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and is listed as a world-class ecosystem under The Nature Conservancy’s Last Great Places program, according to the ACE Basin Web site. The ACE Basin Project is also protected by a coalition comprised of landowners and federal conservancy programs, including Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “A major goal of the protection efforts is to ensure that traditional uses such as farming, forestry, recreational and commercial fishing and hunting will continue in the area,” according to the ACE Basin project’s newsletters.

The ACE Basin will be featured in the November issue of the National Geographic, which hit stands in mid-October. You can also search for Carlson’s video of the basin via Youtube or download the National Geographic app on your Iphone.


Heather Walters (355 Posts)