The Daufuskie Island Conservancy is committed to the protection of the natural resources of Daufuskie Island, including the colonial nesting wading birds that spend some or all of the year here.
One of the biggest threats to the 14 species of colonial nesting wading birds found in South Carolina is habitat loss. Thirteen of these birds nest in the Lowcountry. Colonial wading birds prefer nest sites in trees on islands or in standing water because the surrounding water and the alligators that are frequently present provide them with protection from mammalian nest predation.
Given the challenges these birds face, the recent destruction of rookeries at the former Melrose Club is extremely regrettable. Both state and federal law provide significant penalties for interference with active nest sites.
In addition, Section 106-1846 (b)(8) of the Beaufort County Code of Ordinances provides that "trees that are used as rookeries (even in nonwetland areas) shall not be cut." The county code, available online, contains a number of other restrictions on cutting trees and requirements for mitigation in certain instances.
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The Daufuskie Island Conservancy urges all individuals and entities on Daufuskie to strictly adhere to county, state and federal environmental laws and regulations designed to maintain and protect the island's unique and fragile ecosystem, including the rookeries on the island.
We also urge the Pelorus Group to seek approval of the appropriate governmental authorities to undertake remedial action to address the damage that has been done to already fragile nesting habitat.
Laura Winholt, president
Board of directors
Daufuskie Island Conservancy