Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fly Like a Bird!

Jeff Mollenhauer, Director of Bird Conservation, has been a busy man this week! He reports on his bird's-eye view:
Today, I was lucky enough to fly over Mead Westvaco's East Edisto area in a small plane. I knew that the East Edisto area was big, about 72,000 acres, but seeing it all from the air really puts its enormous size in perspective. The area is a mosaic of habitat types including loblolly pine plantation, bottomland hardwood forest, and clear cuts.

I was particularly interested in seeing some of the remaining tracts of bottomland hardwood forest, which are important foraging and nesting areas for birds such as Swallow-tailed Kites and Wayne's Black-throated Green Warblers. Equally as interesting were the isolated wetlands or "gum ponds" that are found througout the East Edisto area. These small wetlands are scattered like tear drops amidst the pine plantations and clearcuts. These isolated wetlands serve as important areas for many species of ampibians and reptiles, as well as Audubon WatchList species such as Wood Thrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, and Swainson's Warbler. Finally, we flew over some corridors of older lobolly pines which looked like good habitat for WatchList species such as Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman's Sparrow.

Mead-Westvaco's East Edisto project covers their developing plan to shift 72,000 acres from pine production into other uses. Some news coverage includes The State, the South Carolina Statehouse Report, and The Post and Courier. Mead-Westvaco continues to solicit public input regarding their plans for the site.

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