July 11, 2008
Botany Bay Plantation open for public access
Botany Bay Plantation, a 4,630-acre tract located on Edisto Island, is now open for public access.
The ecologically and historically significant property was privately maintained until recently by former owner, Margaret Pepper. The late Mrs. Pepper preserved the natural integrity of the land and fostered a diverse array of habitats including maritime forests, salt marsh, tidal creeks, freshwater ponds and hammock islands. The tract is now managed by S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as a part of the agency's Wildlife Management Area (WMA) program. DNR's stewardship of the property will continue Peppers' customary legacy towards enhancing habitat for all wildlife species while providing public access including compatible educational and recreational opportunities and uses of the land.
Recreational opportunities on Botany Bay Plantation WMA include seasonal hunting, catch and release fishing, birding and an interpretive driving trail.
DNR staff has been monitoring activities since the recent opening of Botany Bay Plantation WMA. The area's first public visitor, Hal Currey of Sullivan's Island, reported to have seen or heard 43 species of birds. Currey said, "You can find beautiful woods, freshwater ponds, brackish ponds, salt marsh, beach-front, tidal creeks, spectacular trees and views." Currey also expressed his gratitude towards the previous landowner and praised the donation of the property to the state, a move that allows all citizens the opportunity to visit an area sustainably managed for wildlife while allowing for public access and appreciation.
Regulations have been established by DNR to help navigate appropriate public uses of Botany Bay Plantation WMA. Hours for public access are one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Hunting will occur on the property beginning this fall with the opening of dove season. After Aug. 1, specific hunting regulations will be clearly defined on the DNR's Web site. A driving tour showcases many of the WMA's unique features, including several archaeological structures of historical significance. The Sea Cloud landing on Ocella Creek offers a launch-site for car-top boats, such as canoes and kayaks. In the Jason's Lake complex, adult-youth catch and release fishing is allowed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and youth must be accompanied by no more than two adults age 18 or older, who are also eligible to fish. Shore-based fishing, shrimping and crabbing are allowed along the front beach area of the WMA. Access to the beach is limited to pedestrian travelers and bicyclists only, and pets are prohibited. Botany Bay Plantation WMA does not have public facilities, restrooms or trash receptacles. Visitors are required to sign in and out at the kiosk located at the main entrance off of the highway so that DNR managers can effectively monitor public use. Regulations specific to activities on Botany Bay Plantation WMA are posted at this kiosk.
DNR managers also intend to encourage use of Botany Bay Plantation WMA by youth in an effort to help bridge the disconnect children increasingly have with the natural world. In his highly acclaimed book, "Last Child in the Woods," Richard Louv defines a nature-deficit-disorder and the need for society to offer opportunities and places for today's youth to hunt, fish and recreate outside to best treat ailments such as obesity and attention shortfalls. It is a goal of DNR managers that Botany Bay Plantation WMA becomes one of those places. According to Phil Maier, DNR's coastal reserves manager, "We are offering unique adult-youth opportunities at Botany Bay Plantation for fishing, hunting and enjoyment of the beach that will contribute to the well-being of the next generation and this special place."
To get to Botany Bay Plantation WMA, travel down SC Highway 174 towards Edisto Beach. Turn left onto Botany Bay Road, located about 8.5 miles south of the McKinley Washington Bridge. Follow the dirt road about 2 miles to near where the road dead-ends. Turn left at the gate and into the property.
Refer to the kiosk at the main entrance for maps and information. For more information on Botany Bay, contact the DNR's Coastal Reserve Program at (843) 953-9300.
DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.