Abridged Minutes of the Environmental Committee Tuesday, October 10, 2017

In July, John Turner reported that the town of Seabrook Island received a letter from Cheryl Munday of NOAA Fisheries, reporting the disruption of dolphin strand feeding near the Kiawah River. Although the video attached to the letter was taken in 2013, the implication is that this is a frequent occurrence on Seabrook Island. NOAA would like to partner with Seabrook Island to educate residents on dolphin behavior. The Town of Seabrook Island is responsible for the beach areas and any decision will need to be made by them. The committee endorsed additional fact finding, before taking any action. A sub-committee to investigate was formed consisting of Mike Orris, Guy Gimson, Jane Marvin, and Lucy Hoover. Patricia Schaffer (photographer who tries to capture strand feeding almost daily) will be contacted to participate. The following groups will be contacted for input:

  • The Town of Kiawah to explore how they implement their Dolphin Education Program
  • Seabrook Island residents who frequent the inlet area such as the Turtle Patrol
  • The Town of Seabrook Island, which is going to add the inlet to the regular route with the Beach Patrol, emphasizing the low tide timing of strand feeding.
  • Communications will be developed for NOAA once the fact finding is complete.

Additional funds for median landscaping are available. The following areas were recommended and approved by the committee:

  • Marsh Gate
  • Seabrook Island Road and Seabrook Island Road intersection
  • Median near Boardwalk 8 to replace the dead rosemary
  • Up Da Creek and Seabrook Island Road

The Greenery Landscaper placed signs on the Lake House lawn warning that spraying will be/had been done. These signs are supposed to be up for 24 hours, but remained up longer, causing some alarm. Steve Hirsch reported that the chemicals used to maintain the lawn are common and if applied correctly are not harmful. The biggest concern was the effect on marine life,  but Seabrook Island has an appropriate buffer between the lawn and lagoons. The spraying only occurs once a year and standard practices were followed by professional landscapers. Spraying should be communicated to residents before it occurs.

Wildlife Mapping shows that the bobcats are back. There are two flocks of turkeys, with 7 or 8 in each flock. The number of turkeys seems to be under control perhaps because of the return of their natural predators, the bobcats.

Dean Morr provided these statistics from this year’s Blue Bird Monitoring:

Nest Attempts: 89 (vs 99 in 2016)
Eggs: 318 (vs 386 in 2016)
Hatched: 183 (vs 360 in 2016)
Fledged: 175 (vs 359 in 2016)

Carolina Chickadees:
Nest Attempts: 26 (vs 28 in 2016)
Eggs: 98 (vs 126 in 2016)
Hatched: 82 (vs 106 in 2016)
Fledged: 82 (vs 106 in 2016)

This year predators (snakes and raccoons) destroyed 34 nests (nest building, eggs, young, or parents). Although we had good numbers of nest attempts compared to prior years, this would account for most of the drop in the number of eggs hatched and fledged from 2014 thru 2016. There is no inexpensive solution to keeping predators out of our 73 monitored boxes. Dean thought baffles may help deter predators, however they are expensive. Any changes would need to be approved by the Club. There were 6 boxes with no activity this year (compared to 3 in 2016 and 7 in 2015). All boxes with no activity this year had activity last year.

Security did not remove a dead fawn found by a resident, which caused some confusion. Removal of dead animals from private property is not the responsibility of Security. They remove dead animals from SIPOA property and roads only.  SIPOA refers owners to Critter Control or other wildlife removal services depending on the type of animal. They are listed in the Kiawah/Seabrook Directory.

John Turner reports the Town has written shoreline fishing provisions and has handed it over to their attorney. There have been reports of boats illegally being pulled up onto the beach, especially at the Camp St. Christopher end of the island. If a resident notices something of this nature, they should call Security, who will notify the County Sheriff of this illegal activity. The areas where boats are located are generally below the high water mark and are under the Town or Camp’s jurisdiction, not Security.

– Submitted by Lucy Hoover, EC Communications

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