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November 18, 2009

DNR publishes wildlife in maritime forest developments guide

Staff with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has recently completed a new booklet entitled "Best Management Practices for Wildlife in Maritime Forest Developments."  The book, co-authored by David Whitaker, Billy McCord, Blaik Pulley, and Elizabeth Mullins is intended to serve as a guide to help minimize the impacts on wildlife when homes are built in a coastal wooded area. 
Best Management Practices or BMPs are provided for the community, the neighborhood and the individual homeowner.  Suggestions range from what plants to use and not use, to information about potential negative wildlife impacts of lighting and exterior home colors.   These BMPs should be useful for those citizens who desire to live in better harmony with wildlife.  "Although designed for the coast, much of the information in the booklet applies to the entire state," said Whitaker.
College of Charleston graduate students Pulley and Mullins assisted in literature research and field work that were used to develop the booklet.  Development guidelines for numerous coastal communities were examined for guidelines that were favorable for coexisting with wildlife.   DNR naturalist Billy McCord provided much of the information related to natural habitats of wildlife and habitat descriptions.
The book includes a large section that describes the natural history of animals that occur in the maritime forest habitat, including birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. "Information is provided to illustrate the interdependence of animals and plants," said McCord.   "It’s important to understand that a high natural diversity of plants and habitats is critical for maintaining high-value wildlife habitat and a healthy ecosystem."
"Our preference is to limit alteration of natural areas for homes, but given that building in natural areas continues to occur, this book should help minimize the negative impacts on wildlife," said Whitaker.  "Also, while this book may provide the most help for those building a home, it can also provide useful information for those already living in wooded areas as well as for those in traditional developments."
This booklet was developed as part of a State Wildlife Grant funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  The booklet may be viewed on the DNR website, and limited copies are available from the authors by calling (843) 953-9392.    

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