It's been a very busy spring 2022! Lots of travel, an art show, planning for upcoming art shows, some other projects, and lots of incredible photography to process and share. Before the next big event, I wanted to be sure and get back to the blog to share my latest inspirations from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
If you follow my blog or social media you know that I regularly travel to Hilton Head, and have for years. The first time I visited, it was the natural and peaceful beauty of this place that I fell in love with. Many people associate Hilton Head with golf, but I'm not a golfer; and there's so much more than golf to Hilton Head! As a wildlife photographer, Hilton Head has diverse species and some of the most unique birding photography anywhere in the United States. How does a warm and sunny Atlantic coast beach environment, that's been named "America's Favorite Island", have great wildlife? Because Hilton Head is also dedicated to conserving natural habitats and the ecosystems that make it possible for both humans and wildlife to thrive on the island.
Here's just a few of the ways Hilton Head has stepped up to protect the island and its ecosystems (source: https://www.hiltonheadisland.org/island-time/eco-wellness/protecting-our-home-conservation-hilton-head-island ).
- Hilton Head Public Service Department irrigates the Island’s six major watersheds with high-quality, treated domestic water to preserve hundreds of acres of native old-growth wetlands, which are home to rare and endangered wildlife and vegetation.
- Hilton Head's Tree Protection Ordinance, in effect since the 1980's, protects against and mitigates the loss of trees based on ecological standards. It also encourages the protection of under-story vegetation. Even for single-family homes, tidal wetland buffer standards require that native vegetation be left intact in accordance with the Tree Protection Ordinance. Hilton Head has also been a Tree City USA Community since 2002. In addition, buildings are capped at a specific height to protect the integrity and aesthetic of the natural local landscape. Trees that are protected -- particularly tall, old growth trees, provide vital habitat for birds and raptors including bald eagles, ospreys, hawks, and kites.
- To protect the sea turtles that travel miles through the Atlantic Ocean to nest specifically on Hilton Head beaches, the Town of Hilton Head Island requires light structures visible from the beach to be covered or turned off between the hours of 10:00 pm and 6:00 am during nesting and hatching season from May to October. Volunteers with the Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island also monitor the beaches daily during these crucial months to mark and track sea turtle nests, minimize pollution, and raise awareness of the importance of the sea turtle’s protection.
- In 1987, a group of local residents created the Hilton Head Island Land Trust, a non-profit corporation with a mission to preserve and protect natural habitats from over-development. Today, nearly 300 acres of Island lands are under the land trust’s stewardship, including the Whooping Crane Pond Conservancy, Cypress Conservancy, Northridge Tract, and Fort Howell from the Civil War era.
- The Town of Hilton Head Island has played a significant role in land conservation. Beginning in 1991, the Town began a plan to manage and control growth on the Island with a similar program created to preserve the open spaces in Nantucket, Massachusetts. As a result, the Town has purchased well over a 1,000 acres. These protected areas have precluded commercial development, hotel development, and new homes in favor of green space, parks, and natural habitat conservation. On December 27, 2017, Audubon International certified the Town of Hilton Head Island as the first public Audubon Sustainable Community in South Carolina. Read about Hilton Head's certification and sustainability success (scroll down to look for Hilton Head).
These conservation and sustainability actions have resulted in one of the most pristine, peaceful, diverse, and enjoyable places to vacation and photograph anywhere along the U.S. Atlantic Coast. Everywhere in the world, conservation is a long-term commitment and practice to mitigate the effects of population growth and impact.
Photographs from my latest trip provide proof of conservation wins in the low country of Hilton Head Island.
Hilton Head Sunset
Osprey with Grouper Catch
What It's All About
Male Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting - Male
Female Painted Bunting
Hilton Head Sub-species of White-Tailed Deer
Hilton Head Sub-species of White Tailed Deer
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