Get Involved with a Christmas Bird Count!!

The 115th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted from Sunday, December 14, 2014 through Monday, January 5, 2015. Since the Christmas Bird count began over a century ago, it has relied on the dedication and commitment of volunteers like you. Please visit this link to learn more.

There are lots of counts that will take place in the Charleston area. Please visit here for a searchable map view of the circles that are expected to be run in the 115th CBC. Also, a little birdie told us that the 2014 Four Holes Swamp Christmas Bird Count will be held on Monday, December 15th and they are looking for some more eyes on the skies. If you are interested in participating in this count, please call Matt Johnson, the Education Manager at 843-462-2150 or e-mail  by Friday, December 12th. The more volunteers that they can enlist, the greater the coverage they can provide to their count area. It is a wonderful way to get time outdoors and volunteer hours!


Become a Certified Interpretive Guide

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission’s Interpretive team members are gearing up to offer a workshop to become a Certified Interpretive Guide, February 2nd – 5th 2015.

If you work (or would like to work) at nature centers, zoos, museums etc. helping visitors connect with our natural or cultural heritage this 32 – hour course is for you! The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) offers a professional certification program to recognize individuals who exhibit knowledge and skills necessary to assure quality interpretive services to all audiences. The Certified Interpretive Guide program is one level in that program. The goal of the CIG program is to provide consistent, high quality training for staff and volunteers who had little or no opportunity to learn about interpretation or who want a refresher course on the basics of presenting interpretive programs. *

The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) Certified Interpretive Guide training will help you gain skills and become more confident in creating and presenting programs, hikes and other presentations. You will find new ways to inspire others to learn more and care more for resources you cherish.

Who should attend?

  • Volunteers and docents who lack experience or education background in the field of interpretation.
  • Students or others who are interested in pursuing a career in interpretation
  • Contract teachers in natural or cultural history programming
  • Newly hired full-time or part-time interpreters, long time interpreters with no formal interpretive training.

Feel free to visit these sites for more details…….

National Assocation for Interpretation

Charleston County Parks Go OnlineNAI

*The interpretation training to become a SC Statewide Master Naturalist is a one day session that is a lot less comprehensive than this, however, this would certainly suffice to cover that training requirement and then some!


Volunteer at Resource Recovery Tents for the Charleston County Park’s Holiday Festival of Lights!

Charleston County Parks is always trying to leave as small of an ecological footprint as possible during their events. With the help of many volunteers, helpful patrons and Food Waste Disposal, LLC, nearly all of the waste produced from the food and beverage vendors at the 2014 Lowcountry Cajun Festival was either recycled or composted. An estimated 1,175 pounds of waste was composted and 160 pounds was recycled. This also translates into 91.4% of the waste produced at this festival being diverted from the landfill! How was this accomplished you might ask? Throughout the festival grounds, tents called “Resource and Recovery” stations were on site, where guests deposited their waste. Under these tents, conscientious volunteers helped sort waste products into recyclables, compostables, and waste for the landfill, the latter of which was kept to an extreme minimum.

Resource and Recovery tents are now on site at most of CCPRC’s large events in support of the agency’s environmental stewardship initiatives and they are launching these tents for the first time at the Holiday Festival of Lights which just officially began! They are looking for volunteers to assist and this would be a neat way to gather some volunteer hours!

Dates that are needed are as follows…… – Friday, Nov 28th (need 3)

– Saturday, Nov 29th (need 3)

– Friday, Dec 5th (need 2)

– Saturday, Dec 6th (need 2)

– Friday, Dec 12th (need 3)

– Saturday, Dec 13th (need 1)

– Friday, Dec 19th (need 2)

– Saturday, Dec 20th (need 1)

– Sunday, Dec 21st thru Saturday, Dec 27th *excluding xmas day* (need 3 volunteers each of these nights)

– Sunday, Dec 28th (need 1)

All shifts begin at 5:00pm and end at 11:00pm Fridays & Saturdays; end at 10:30pm Sunday-Thursday.

Here is the link to the posting on our volunteer site for more info:

Please contact Sarah Giles, CCPRC Stewardship Aide, with any questions at


Volunteers needed for Red – Cockaded Woodpecker Identification!

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) volunteers needed!

Volunteers needed to help identify red-cockaded woodpecker juveniles as they enter their roost cavities in the evening in Francis Marion National Forest. The birds enter their cavities for the evening about ½ hour before sunset. Currently (10/7) they are going in the cavities around 6:00 to 6:40 p.m. Times will change as the sun sets earlier. Locations are mostly near McClellanville but there are locations along Halfway Creek Road and in the Cain Hoy/Green Bay area (Hoover Road).

This is part of a project to reintroduce/ relocate banded juvenile red-cockaded woodpeckers (a federally endangered species) to the ACE Basin. We plan to capture 20 juveniles the first week of November and I need to identify approximately 40 roost trees prior to the capture night. I need help in identifying leg bands on RCWs in the evening when they roost. No experience is necessary, but you will be standing in the forest, with some mosquitoes, and may only catch a quick glimpse of a RCW at dusk as they enter their cavity. Personal transportation, spotting scope, some prior bird watching experience and commitment to a few evenings are preferred.

Please contact Larry Wood if you are interested.
Larry Wood

Larry Wood
Wildlife Investigations, LLC
10033 S Carolina RD
McClellanville, SC 29458

Next Butterfly Walk on October 25

We will be having a Butterfly Walk on Saturday, October 25 at Caw Caw interpretive center. Chet Morse from Caw Caw will come along with us on the walk.
Caw Caw Interpretive Center is located on Savannah Highway: 5200 Savannah Hwy, Ravenel, SC
It’s very beautiful out there and should make a good walk spot!

Admission is $1/person.

We will meet at 9 am. Please bring your own binoculars and field guide. Also remember a water bottle!

I will be unable to attend due to work constraints. If you are a seasoned butterflier and would like to help lead this walk, please email me and let me know.

Thank you all,

Amanda Szwarc

Environmental Educator & Butterfly House Curator
Cypress Gardens
(P) 843.553.0515

Want to Volunteer with Butterflies?

Cypress Gardens is looking for a few flexible and reliable volunteers to help in their butterfly garden. Volunteers are needed to help clean and interact with the public. This is a great chance to get up and close to those butterflies! If interested, contact Amanda Szwarc 843-553-0515

Wood Magic Volunteers Needed October. 6-10

Last week’s Wood Magic at the Piedmont Forestry Center came together and went well! Now it’s time to make sure the same happens for the Harbison State Forest event October 6-10.

Below are the volunteer positions still vacant. If you have not already volunteered for this event and are able to, please consider volunteering for one of the following positions:

Monday, 6th 2 Sawmill instructors
1 Good Fire/Bad Fire instructor
1 food service

Tuesday, 7th 2 Sawmill instructors
1 Paper Making instructor
1 Good Fire/Bad Fire instructor

Wednesday, 8th 2 Sawmill instructors
1 Good Fire/Bad Fire instructors

Thursday, 9th 1 Guide
1 Sawmill instructor
2 Paper Making instructors
1 food service

Friday, 10th 4 Guides
1 Sawmill instructor
2 food service

Thank you, and I look forward to another great Wood Magic!

Stephanie Kolok or 803-896-8855

Waterkeeper Volunteers Needed!

Join our team as a volunteer Field Investigator for the Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program! Field Investigators assist in collection of water samples from both boat and land sites. Volunteers meet our staff on Wednesday mornings at 7:30 AM and sampling normally lasts about 4 hours. Training is required of all volunteers. Sampling runs from May through October. Contact Cheryl for more information.


Contact: Cheryl Carmack 843-607-3390

Francis Marion Recreation Public Meeting

On Saturday, August 16, the Francis Marion National Forest hosted another of their ongoing series of topical meetings to engage the public in the current Forest Plan Revision.   This meeting covered prospective additions to wilderness areas, wild and scenic river designations, and possible expansion of recreational and cultural awareness activities. At the outset, those seemed to me to be simple questions. Why not, I asked, protect our precious natural resources as much as possible?   Over the course of the meeting, I discovered that the planners have very challenging choices to find balance between competing objectives.


The Francis Marion National Forest already contains four designated wilderness areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System: Hell Hole Bay, Wambaw Creek, Little Wambaw Swamp, and Wambaw Swamp.   The planning process requires that the Forest Service identify and evaluate additional areas that might meet the eligibility requirements for new wilderness areas. One new separate area and several expansions of existing areas have been identified.

Planners next step will be an evaluation phase, which is where the challenges come in. The restrictions that are part of wilderness designation may conflict with other important objectives in the forest plan. For example, restoring Longleaf Pine to more of its historic range is a major goal but the wilderness area prohibition of wheeled vehicles would make it more difficult and expensive to maintain fire breaks and conduct the prescribed burns necessary for Longleaf to prosper. Other forest personnel involved in protecting rare habitats and threatened/endangered species might also be less successful if hindered by wilderness area restrictions. After the evaluation phase, the Forest Supervisor decides whether or not to recommend any wilderness area. The decision is then outside the Forest Service, requiring approval by a review board and finally an act of Congress.

One topic of discussion following the wilderness area presentation was a question from local firefighters about ATV rescues in a wilderness area. The answers were that the forest supervisor can authorize wheeled rescues and that the forest personnel present had recorded a follow up note of “911 coordination”.

Wild and Scenic Rivers

There are currently no wild and scenic rivers in the Francis Marion National Forest. As required, planners have identified streams that might be eligible for such designation, including sections of the lower Santee River, Wambaw Creek, Echaw Creek, Wabdoo Creek, and Awendaw Creek.

Wild and scenic river designation is less restrictive than wilderness area designation but would include a commitment by forest managers to preserving the unique ecological, scenic, recreation and cultural values that qualified the stream. One of the identified streams, Wambaw Creek, is inside a wilderness area and already enjoys substantial protection. The full course of another, Wabdoo Creek, is largely outside the forest and therefore outside forest managers’ ability to protected the associated values.


For purposes of planning additional recreation opportunities, planners have divided the forest into four zones that each present unique recreational potential. Somewhat simplified, that division is a coastal zone that with salt water access and rich cultural assets, two eastern zones along the Santee River (one rich with wilderness and one with roads offering scenic drive potential), and one western zone along the Wando with the most convenient access from the Charleston urban area.

The Wando zone contains a Wildlife Management Area where hunting takes place and there is already some history of conflict between hunting and non-hunting users. The prospect of additional non-hunting activity, e.g. with expanded horse and hiking trails, generated the most intense comments by attendees. This is a very difficult issue for forest managers for several reasons. They are mandated to be non-political but hunting regulation in South Carolina is, in fact, very political. Also, there are quite a few agencies involved besides just the U.S. Forest Service: U.S. Fish and Wildlife manages the WMA, SC DNR manages hunting, and local law enforcement has jurisdiction. Many, if not all, of those agencies have mixed use mandates, so they need to accommodate the conflicting uses. I and several other attendees argued that managers from all of those agencies simply must sit down together to work out a coordinated plan for managing and minimizing the conflict. Perhaps the plan could, at least, contain additional public education and more transparent coordination of law enforcement.

Challenging Choices

Having identified potential wilderness additions, wild and scenic river designations, and recreational expansions, planners are now tasked with analyzing the benefits, costs, and conflicts. Those of us who love the forest should be glad that there are forest planners and managers who are willing and able navigate such complex problems that have no simple, obvious solutions. It will be very interesting to see what they propose at subsequent public meetings.

Written by Carl W. Cole, Master Naturalist


Additional reading:

Francis Marion National Forest Plan Revision 2012 – 2016