Characterization of the Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin, South Carolina

Management Strategies for Resource Protection

We are now aware that the complexities in coastal management and the integration of science into the decision-making process go hand-in-glove. An holistic approach is required and consideration must be given to how one sector (i.e. forestry) might affect other sectors (e.g. fisheries) and the environment (e.g. habitat). Also, conflict resolution is required between different sectors and for the adoption of flexible management plans that can be fine-tuned and allow for shifts in direction when necessary. Scientists are encouraged to work more closely with managers in roles that are nontraditional.

Enforcement is a critical element in the conservation of natural resources in the ACE Basin. The perceptions of user groups of the regulatory and enforcement process have had a significant bearing on compliance behavior. A major goal of enforcement is to prevent resource impacts through "preventive enforcement" which is best accomplished by frequent patrols of the area. However, the ACE Basin is much too large of an area and, many times, violations go unnoticed. Enforcement philosophy is shifting to "interpretive enforcement" where voluntary compliance is stressed through educational messages and literature on responsible behavior. Other goals include extended education and outreach activities and the promotion of resource stewardship.

The ACE Basin has traditionally been used for hunting, fishing, agriculture, and forestry. Each of these activities is currently subject to state regulation through required licenses, permits, boundaries, seasons, bag limits, catch limits, and other laws. Establishment of the ACE Basin Project has not changed any of the existing laws and regulations concerning these or any other traditional uses. Therefore, goals and recommendations for this particular issue are generally to maintain the present emphasis on traditional uses and to factor these important socioeconomic activities into the coastal decision-making process.

An important component of the human use environment deals with the kinds of development that take place beyond conservation lands in the ACE Basin. The latest findings on urban and suburban development demonstrate an inefficient use of natural resources. The current land use debate is driven by the SC Local Government Comprehensive Planning Enabling Act of 1994 which provides clear guidance to local governments on the purpose, approach, and procedures for plan preparation, approval and enforcement. Recommendations are made for Colleton County, the heart of the ACE Basin, to create a plan for responsible growth and to address certain critical growth issues facing the County. Reference is made to stewardship development guidelines that help plan a broad policy document focused on sustainable development.