South Carolina Ducks Unlimited contributes $25,000 to Crab Bank conservation initiative

The South Carolina chapter of Ducks Unlimited presents the S.C. Coastal Bird Conservation Program with a $25,000 donation on Thursday, December 20. Pictured (from left to right) are SCDU Committee Member Jerry Watson, Director of the SCDNR Office of Environmental Programs Lorianne Riggin, SCDNR Board member Dr. Mark Hartley, SCDU State Public Policy Chairman Kip Dillihay, SCDNR Deputy Director for Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Emily Cope, SCDU Director of Conservation Programs James Rader, SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor, SCDU incoming State Chairman Brian Ford, SCDU State Publicity & Communications Chairwoman Sarah Nell Blackwell and Audubon South Carolina Executive Director Sharon Richardson. [SCDNR photo by Kaley Lawrimore]

Charleston, S.C., December 20, 2018 – Leaders from the South Carolina Chapter of Ducks Unlimited (SCDU) today presented a $25,000 check to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) from the SCDU Tag Fund to support the work of the S.C. Coastal Bird Conservation Program.

“Ducks Unlimited (DU) is a long-standing partner with SCDNR and other members of the S.C. Coastal Bird Program,” said DU Director of Conservation Programs James Rader. “We make this donation in support of our continual efforts in South Carolina to enhance habitats for waterfowl, other wetland dependent species and people.”

The SCDU Tag Fund supports SCDNR’s Wood Duck Box Program, which provides 1,200 wooden boxes per year for breeding wood ducks to nest in and raise their young, stabilizing and bolstering their populations for generations. DU has also provided financial support for maintenance and enhancement projects at many SCDNR properties, including Category I Waterfowl Areas like Bonneau Ferry, Santee Coastal Reserve and Broad River WMAs, as well as heritage preserve sites like Botany Bay and Capers Island.

“We’re honored to be able to continue our mission of funding wetland and waterfowl habitats here in South Carolina simply through the public’s continued purchase and renewals of our SCDU license plates,” said SCDU incoming State Chairman, Brian Ford. “Our Tag program is one of the easiest means for ensuring conservation projects in our own backyard.”

“DU has always been a reliable leader in migratory bird conservation,” said SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor. “We are proud to work with them on various wetland projects providing benefits to not only waterfowl, but also shorebirds, seabirds, wading birds and marsh birds. It was no surprise to see them step up to support the efforts to renourish Crab Bank and we are grateful for that type of dependability in our partnership.”

This isn’t the first time that DU has supported projects aimed specifically at aiding colonial nesting seabirds and shorebirds. At Louisiana’s Pass a Loutre WMA, dredged material was used to create a bird nesting island in open water near the mouth of the Mississippi River that provides a safe nesting area for colonial seabirds without the threat of land predators.

“Ducks Unlimited has been such a leader in habitat management and restoration of our critical wetlands," said Sharon Richardson, executive director of Audubon South Carolina. “It is no surprise to see their leadership and investment in this once in a lifetime habitat restoration for South Carolina. We are so proud to have them as a Conservation partner.”

“Ducks Unlimited is among the most effective conservation organizations on the planet. They are international in their scope and their efforts have protected more than fourteen million acres of migratory bird habitat in North America alone,” said Chris Crolley, chief steward of Coastal Expeditions and the Coastal Expeditions Foundation. “I couldn’t be prouder for DU to join the growing list of organizations, companies and individuals supporting the S.C. Coastal Bird Conservation Program. Having DU at the table with us is incredibly significant for the success of our initial project to restore Crab Bank and as a partner for the Coastal Bird Conservation Program as we grow into the future. Thank you to the Ducks Unlimited Family!”

“South Carolina Ducks Unlimited and its members routinely and energetically advance land conservation and habitat restoration in this state. We are united in our efforts to protect places where birds nest, rest, and thrive, and we appreciate their generous support of Crab Bank,” said Coastal Conservation League Executive Director Laura Cantral. “The island is a key part of the state’s limited network of protected nesting sites and contributes to scientific research, education, recreation, and our local economy. It is urgent that we restore Crab Bank for the health and wellbeing of our coastal birds and community.”

About the S.C. Coastal Bird Conservation Program and Crab Bank:
The SCDNR-led program provides a framework for raising private donations to support coastal bird conservation projects and is supported by a broad coalition of conservation groups working together on fundraising and public awareness. Supporting organizations include the Coastal Conservation League, Audubon South Carolina, the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, the Coastal Expeditions Foundation, the South Carolina Aquarium and Ducks Unlimited. Since its inception in 2017, the program’s efforts have been focused first on Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary in Charleston Harbor, one of five designated seabird sanctuaries owned by the SCDNR. In the past, Crab Bank has provided nesting habitat for as many as 5,000 birds in a single nesting season, including large colonies of brown pelicans, terns, black skimmers, egrets and herons, and a few dozen American oystercatchers. However, due to wave erosion over the past 50 years and Hurricane Irma in 2017, all available nesting habitat on Crab Bank has been washed away.

Today’s donation from SCDU will help close the gap on the fundraising goal of $1.4 million in private matching funds needed to help cost-share renourishment of Crab Bank using dredged material from the Charleston Harbor “Post-45” deepening project. As many as 80 acres could be restored, which would provide 28 acres of upland habitat for nesting and loafing coastal birds. To date, the effort has raised nearly $1.1 million. Many individuals have also donated to this project. For more information about the S.C. Coastal Birds Conservation program, or to make a donation, visit the website at www.sccoastalbirds.org.