DNR and Conservation in the News
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The State 10/14/10
DHEC: No mercury warnings for Lake Murray
By SAMMY FRETWELL
The state health department doesn’t plan to warn people against eating mercury-tainted fish caught at Lake Murray because agency officials say the fish don’t contain enough of the pollutant to threaten public health.
While the toxic metal has shown up in bass for at least a decade in the popular lake, a top state water quality official dismissed a report Wednesday that his agency was preparing to issue warnings.
“I don’t see us listing Lake Murray, that’s not what our data show,’’ said Jim Glover, who manages the aquatic biology section at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Lake Murray is one of the few major water bodies from the Midlands to the coast that does not carry an advisory against eating more than moderate amounts of some fish species. Some critics say that because mercury is so pervasive in the environment, DHEC should consider health advisories on big bass in every river and lake that does not carry a warning.
An expansive waterway that touches four counties, Lake Murray is the Columbia area’s top recreational lake. On a typical summer day, it is filled with boaters, skiers and anglers, and has been home to major national fishing tournaments. Thousands of people live along the lake’s shores.
Post and Courier 10/14/10
Hutto receives NRA backing
Rep. Anne Peterson Hutto, D-James Island, received an endorsement from the National Rifle Association for her re-election bid to state House District 115.
Hutto faces Republican Peter McCoy and Green Party and petition candidate Eugene Platt on Nov. 2.
Hutto, the holder of a concealed-weapons permit, said her endorsement was based on her voting record with regard to 2nd Amendment rights. Hutto said she also was recognized for the work she did to help pass a law that allows concealed-weapon permit holders older than 21 to carry weapons in a locked or attended vehicle while on school property.
Hutto said she pushed for the bill as a way to ensure that parents who lawfully carry guns aren't in violation of a state statute while waiting to drop their children off at school.
Independent Mail 10/13/10
Biologist urges court to compel more sediment removal from Twelve Mile Creek
By Anna Mitchell
ANDERSON — A federal judge in Anderson said Wednesday that he would consider whether the Schlumberger Technology Corp. is doing all it can to clean PCB-laden sediment from a Hartwell Lake tributary in Pickens County.
Judge G. Ross Anderson heard an hour and a half of testimony Wednesday morning from retired Clemson biologist Larry Dyck on the distribution of sediment above two dams along Twelve Mile Creek and how a dredging firm working for Schlumberger could do more to identify and remove all the sediment containing polychlorinated biphenyls. PCBs are a probable cause of cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Dyck said dredgers say they are removing sediment as close to the creek’s banks as possible without causing cave-ins from the overhanging vegetation, but he argued that the removal of sediment should go way beyond the visible banks to include sandy mud that in spots has collected up to 50 feet inland.
“I think PCBs are contained within this flood-plain terrace,” Dyck said.
The Sun News 10/13/10
Outdoors folks benefited from stimulus funds
By PETE ZIMOWSKY
If you find clear trails, new trails and bridges, smoother backroads and improved campgrounds while you're out hunting or camping this fall, thank Uncle Sam's stimulus funds.
Although the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a jobs package, outdoors folks scored big and probably don't even know it.
The stimulus funds provided a lot of money for much-needed maintenance and improvements on public land.
The tax dollars came when outdoor facilities continued to deteriorate with meager recreation budgets that weren't keeping up.
When the recovery act was proposed, the U.S. Forest Service had a facilities maintenance backlog of about $700 million and a road maintenance backlog between $5 billion and $8 billion. The story was the same with the U.S. Park Service, which needed to invest $1.7 billion, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which had $325 million, in maintenance projects.
The stimulus package got a lot of heat, but when Mr. and Mrs. Hunter pull their camp trailer down a newly maintained forest road to deer camp, they can appreciate that their tax money went for something that will benefit future generations instead of disappearing into a black hole somewhere.
The State 10/13/10
Officials gather to discuss SC's water issues
The Associated Press
Experts are gathering in South Carolina's capital city to talk about water issues facing the state.
The two-day 2010 South Carolina Water Resources Conference gets under way Wednesday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
U.S. Coast Guard and state Department of Health and Environmental Control are on the agenda of listed speakers for a discussion on oil spill planning and response.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen is scheduled to speak. And several state lawmakers are lined up to talk Wednesday about legislative perspective on the state's water resources.
Independent Mail 10/13/10
‘Bat team’ headed to county building
By Nikie Mayo
ANDERSON — A “bat team” from United Wildlife Control will be at the Anderson County Courthouse Annex on Thursday morning to remove the nocturnal creatures that have taken up residence there.
Maintenance supervisor Wade Brown has estimated that the bat population at the annex is relatively small, probably no more than 40.
Removing them could cost $2,000 depending on how many workers are needed.
“We’re not sure yet of the details on how the bat team works,” interim county administrator Rusty Burns said Wednesday. “We will be meeting them in the morning to discuss the entire bat operation.”
The company’s website says bat removal is “probably the most intricate and difficult task that United Wildlife’s animal control experts deal with on a regular basis.”
The company says it has a “special bat relocation process” because the winged mammals have been known to fly up to 500 miles to return to their roosts.
The Sun News 10/11/10
A night on an alligator hunt
N.C. man nabs 11-foot alligator
By Adva Saldinger
It was shortly after 8 p.m. on a warm September night lit by a nearly full moon when the three men set out with a spotlight, a harpoon and a bang stick - alligator hunting tools - in a 19-foot boat that bore the mark of alligator's teeth from a previous hunt.
Brad Moore, who owns an animal processing and taxidermy business, had been out every night for the previous week guiding alligator hunting trips. He was the quiet leader, dressed in rather nontraditional hunting gear of flip flops and swim shorts. Along with him was John Tweedy, Moore's good friend, whose duties included driving the boat and sinking a harpoon once the gator was caught. Then there's Scott Martin, who had come down for the night from Taylorsville, N.C., to catch a gator.
In the hours-long hunt ahead of them in the dark of night, they would face challenges, a few close calls and plenty of excitement.
"Hunting gators is the most fun I've ever had in my life," Tweedy said, adding that the potential danger adds to the thrill.
Alligator hunting season in South Carolina, which started Sept. 11, ended Saturday with about 310 catches reported to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, though that number may rise to about 340 once all the reports are in, said Jay Butfiloski, furbearer and alligator program coordinator for DNR. There were 1,200 permits awarded, but not all were issued. The catch rate is lower than last year's 452, but still at about the 25 percent to 30 percent rate the state expected.
Post and Courier 10/12/10
Google to invest in offshore wind power project
NEW YORK — A consortium of technology and investment companies including Google has devoted $1.8 billion to building a network of transmission lines to connect future offshore wind farms along the Atlantic from New Jersey to Virginia.
Google Inc. has teamed up with investment firm Good Energies, Japanese industrial conglomerate Marubeni and Maryland transmission company Trans-Elect to develop transmission lines that could deliver 2,000 megawatts of wind energy along the East Coast.
Trans-Elect CEO Robert L. Mitchell says the first phase will run 150 miles in federal waters from New Jersey to Delaware and be complete by early 2016. The entire project could cost up to $5 billion over the next 10 years, Mitchell said.
The Sun News 10/12/10
Beach erosion strikes SC park, cabins evacuated
The Associated Press
Erosion has forced the evacuation of cabins at Hunting Island State Park.
The Island Packet of Hilton Head reported officials had to evacuate the south end of the park late last week as the ocean undermined the road leading to four cabins.
Park manager Jeff Atkins says officials were able to evacuate get people out by driving on the shoulder of the road. Atkins wasn't sure how many people were in the two occupied cabins. He says they were not damaged.
The park stopped accepting reservations for nine of its 10 cabins last winter, worrying erosion would threaten the cabins. The park still accepts reservations for the cabin near the lighthouse on the island's north end.
Atkins says those with reservations for the four cabins on the south end of the island are getting refunds.
Beaufort Gazette 10/09/10
Beaufort sails toward response to abandoned boat problem
By PATRICK DONOHUE
An abandoned 30-foot sailboat that sank last week near the Beaufort Downtown Marina has prompted new interest in an old problem.
The boat, anchored near the marina for nearly a month, does not pose a navigational hazard, and it doesn't appear to have leaked any chemicals into the Beaufort River, according to Rick Griffin, the city's harbormaster. Nonetheless, it is a reminder to city officials that their waters shouldn't teem with derelict vessels.
"It's a growing problem and ... we'd like to address it before it becomes a big problem," said Mayor Billy Keyserling. "We can't afford to have derelict boats endangering public safety or giving people an (inaccurate) image of Beaufort."
On Tuesday, City Council instructed city manager Scott Dadson to get the state's approval to create a mooring field within city limits, where each boat would be required to tie to a mooring ball or be removed. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control's Ocean and Coastal Resource Management office would have to approve the plan.A site for the mooring field hasn't been determined.
Herald Journal 10/06/10
SC lifts advisory for Great Pee Dee River
The Associated Press
BENNETTSVILLE — State environmental officials have lifted a water advisory that had been issued after untreated wastewater spilled into the Great Pee Dee River in Marlboro County.
Multiple media outlets reported the Department of Health and Environmental Control said water samples from the river now meet recreational water standards.
Wastewater spilled from a dike at Mohawk Industries in Bennettsville on Sept. 30. The plant makes flooring.
DHEC says the breach that allowed untreated wastewater to enter the river has been stabilized.
Post and Courier 09/30/10
Objections to I-526 expansion increasing
EPA recommends denial of project permit for now
By Prentiss Findlay
The line of government agencies opposed to building the Mark Clark Expressway across the islands is growing.
Plans for the $489 million Interstate 526 project over Johns and James islands are moving too quickly for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has recommended that a permit for the project be denied for now.
EPA said in a Tuesday letter to the Corps that the application is premature because the SCDOT and Federal Highway Administration have not concluded how the project would impact the environment.
"We recommend that the permit for the project, as currently designed, be denied," the EPA said.
However, the Corps is not bound by the EPA recommendation and will make its own decision on the SCDOT and highway administration application for an expressway permit under the Clean Water Act, said Glenn Jeffries, director of corporate communications for the Army Corps Charleston District.
A final Environmental Impact Statement for the I-526 project will be issued next spring with a decision on which of six versions of the last leg of the highway will be built. The SCDOT has a "preferred alternative" that was the subject of recent public hearings on the islands. The no-build alternative did not make the final cut in the draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The EPA isn't alone in objecting to the project.
Post and Courier 09/30/10
130-year-old Morris Island Lighthouse now 'will be there twice that long'
By Robert Behre
FOLLY BEACH -- More than a decade after Save the Light Inc. launched its ambitious effort to preserve the Morris Island Lighthouse, the most important part of its work is done.
Palmetto Gunite Construction Co. Inc. recently finished a $2 million project to install a new foundation under the 158-foot-tall brick landmark.
Earlier investigations showed that its original wooden pilings were eaten up by small saltwater clams also known as Teredo worms.
The foundation work was wrapped up just as the heart of hurricane season began.
"We feel the foundation is very, very stable right now," said Al Hitchcock, chairman of Save the Light.
The 68 new micropiles, the same sort of foundation installed to preserve Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, will help the lighthouse weather the next big storm.
Post and Courier 09/30/10
Viewing Gallery: Morris Island Lighthouse (Photo Gallery)
Post and Courier 09/30/10
SC officials join others to push for I-73 funding
MYRTLE BEACH — South Carolina leaders are heading to Washington for a road rally, but they won’t be racing around the Beltway.
Instead, they join leaders from five other states Thursday for a meeting of the National I-73, I-74 Corridor Association.
The group holds two days of meetings to plan strategies to make sure money for the interstates is included in a federal highway reauthorization bill next year.
Leaders from South Carolina are joining those from Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
I-73 will provide the first interstate link to Myrtle Beach, the heart of South Carolina’s $18 billion tourism industry.
Building 90 miles of the interstate across four counties is expected to cost $2 billion.
The State 09/30/10
Rain scrambles coastal areas
Remnants of tropical storm dump more than 8 inches of rain
By JANELLE FROST and TONYA ROOT
The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News
A low pressure system that has dumped near record rainfall along the coastal areas of the Carolinas is moving out of the area, but the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole continue to move closer to the coast, according to weather forecasters.
"Remnants of Nicole will move up to the region this afternoon and could linger through the night," said Mike Caropolo, meteorologist-in-charge with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.
Independent Mail 09/29/10
PCB dredging of Twelve Mile Creek hits snag
By Anna Mitchell
Plaintiffs in a long-standing legal battle to remove PCB-polluted creek bottom mud from a Hartwell Lake tributary have until Friday to explain why they haven’t worked better with the corporation charged with cleaning it up.
Schlumberger Technology Corp. now owns the site where a capacitor manufacturer dumped an estimated 400,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds into the environment from the 1950s until the 1970s.
Signs posted along Twelve Mile Creek and Hartwell Lake, which the creek flows into, warn fishermen not to eat their catch because of the pollutant’s buildup in the fatty tissues of fish at the top of the food chain - including hybrid and striped bass.
Federal Judge G. Ross Anderson ordered Schlumberger last year to proceed with removing sediments from behind two dam sites near the Cateechee community along Twelve Mile Creek where PCBs, which had leached into the creek, were concentrating.
To date, the corporation has dredged 1,500 feet of the creek. But Schlumberger attorneys complained in an emergency motion filed Sept. 24 that a collection of state and federal environmental agencies -- the “trustees” of the Hartwell Lake settlement -- have not approved each stage of dredging within a court-ordered 48 hours.
Island Packet 09/28/1
Committee approves plans to ramp up boat landings
By LUKE THOMPSON
Improvements to two boat landings in northern Beaufort County moved closer to fruition Tuesday after a committee recommended approving contracts to build a floating dock at Wimbee Creek Landingand create four beach access points along Bay Point Road in the Lands End area.
Two of the three proposed stairways to the Beaufort River beachfrontat Lands End on St. Helena Island would replace ones that have deteriorated and are too narrow to meet current code requirements, according to a report from county engineer Bob Klink before the Public Facilities Committee.
Patterson Construction of Beaufort, which bid just less than the $45,000 the county budgeted for the capital improvement, also would install a new walkway that would comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
County public works director Eddie Bellamy said he doesn't know when the work would begin. The contract first must be approved by County Council.
Bellamy said if the contract is approved, Alpha Construction Co. of Savannah would probably start work on the new dock at Wimbee Creek in mid-January, after peak boating and duck hunting season. He estimated the $121,000 project would take no more than two months.
"It's important to give the citizens on the northern end of the county the same access viability to the water as we give to the other citizens of the county," said councilman and committee member Gerald Dawson.
That project is one of eight boating access improvements proposed to be funded through a $510,750 grant from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
The State 09/27/10
Bug-infested trees felled at Upstate fish hatchery
By SAMMY FRETWELL
Some of the most majestic and visible trees at a popular mountain tourist stop are being chopped down this fall after dying from an infestation of exotic bugs.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources expects to remove up to 25 hemlocks by early December at the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, a tree-shrouded center where biologists grow trout for release into South Carolina rivers.
Located in the Appalachian mountains of northwest South Carolina, the fish hatchery attracts an estimated 40,000 visitors each year. Many come to see the schools of trout that are grown in open tanks for later release into rivers such as the Saluda near Columbia, and in mountain streams.
But the hatchery and an adjoining picnic area are also known for the towering hemlocks and white pines, and the bushy rhododendron, that surround the property. Now, a voracious Asian bug is killing hemlocks and making trees less stable.
Scott Poore, who manages the fish hatchery for the DNR, said the agency needs to remove some of the dead and dying hemlocks so they won’t fall on visitors or on fish hatchery buildings.
Newberry Observer 09/27/10
Newberry man dies in ATV wreck
by Cindy Pitts The Newberry Observer
A local young man lost his life after a four-wheel wreck Saturday night.
Richard Clark “R.C.” Neel V, 22, of Harold Bowers Road, Newberry, died at 12:47 a.m. Sunday after a 9:30 p.m. wreck on Harold Bowers Road, about a mile off Belfast Road.
Neel was traveling south when he lost control of the all terrain vehicle he was driving. He was thrown from the four-wheeler during the crash.
The road was blocked for two hours as the wreck was investigated.
scnow.com Morning News 09/27/10
Wildlife Action Inc. holds hunting disabilities seminar
By Andrew Golden
Wildlife Action Inc. held a hunting disabilities seminar at D.W. Outdoors Mallard Preserve in Zion on Saturday, Sept. 25.
The CEO and founder of Outdoors Without Limits Kirk Thomas was the guest speaker. Outdoors Without Limits is a National organization whose goal is to educate those with disabilities about outdoor activities and offer them an opportunity to participate, Kirk Thomas, will be the guest speaker.
“It’s a very highly respected national organization that focuses on putting a segment of our population that’s often times over looked and often times has to do without, and putting them back in the outdoors,” CEO of Wildlife Action Inc. Frank Oliver said.
Thomas spoke about new opportunities for disabled and mobility impaired hunters through D.W. Outdoors, a local hunting club. He also gave tips for hunters who are disabled and mobility impaired saying, “It’s is all about partnership.”
Georgetown Times 09/27/10
Dead gator found on hood of WHS student's Jeep
Investigators are trying to determine why a dead alligator was left on the hood of a car belonging to a Waccamaw High School student.
WHS Principal David Hammel called deputies after the 17 year old student discovered the dead gator on the hood of his Jeep Cherokee.
The three-foot-long gator “appeared to be a fresh kill as it was still bleeding” from injuries on its head, mouth and tail, the report states.
The vehicle owner said he has no idea who would put the animal on his car.
A check of the tape from a security camera showed a near the victim’s vehicle a little while before students were dismissed.
No charges have been filed.
Island Packet 09/27/10
Learn all about estuaries at museum
Hilton Head Island visitors and residents will have the opportunity to learn about area estuaries and the creatures that live in them.
The Coastal Discovery Museum and the Lowcountry Estuarium, a coastal learning center in the town of Port Royal, will host a program at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.
The program will stress the significance of estuaries, how they function, their relevance to the coastal ecosystem and why the Port Royal Sound estuary is unique among the estuaries of the world.
Cost is $5 per person and reservations are required by calling 843-689-6767, ext. 223. The museum is located at 70 Honey Horn Drive, Hilton Head.
Drought Affects Upstate Corn Maze
Owner Says Corn Stalks Several Feet Shorter This Year
ANDERSON, S.C. -- Effects of the drought were visible at a fall attraction in Anderson County on Saturday.
Corn stalks at the Denver Downs Farm corn maze were several feet shorter than usual.
"Normally it's going to be about 6 or 7 feet tall, if we get good rain," said Elizabeth Garrison, walking through corn between two and three feet tall.
The Garrison family has owned the farm since the 1870's.
She said workers had to plant the 12-acre corn field late because of poor rainfall and that dry weather slowed the corn's growth ever since.
"The ground is so hard, the plow couldn't get through the soil," she said.
According to the National Weather Service, precipitation for the Greenville-Spartanburg area was 3.78 inches below normal for the 2010 calendar year as of Saturday.
Post and Courier 09/27/10
Lowcountry anglers and their "Catch of The Day."
The State 09/26/10
Record high temperatures posted across Carolinas
The Associated Press
Several cities across the Carolinas posted record high weekend temperatures to cap the long hot summer.
The National Weather Service reported that Raleigh, N.C., had a high of 98 degrees Saturday - six degree more than the previous high set in 1986. That was the year much of the South suffered through a devastating drought.
Florence, S.C., also saw its hottest Sept. 25 since 1986 with a temperature of 95 - one degree higher than the previous record.
Meteorologist Brandon Vincent says the record was more than 20 degrees above normal for the end of September.
In Charlotte, N.C., the high of 94 matched the previous record set in 1961. Greenville, S.C., also reported a high of 94 degrees beating the record of 93 set in 1933. Wilmington, N.C., hit 93 degrees, tying its 1986 record.
The Weather Service says Columbia and Florence in South Carolina and Lumberton and Fayetteville in North Carolina had more than 100 days with temperatures of 90 degrees or more this year.
Vincent says it's the last of the heat for a while as forecasts are calling for rain and temperatures in the 60s over the next few days.
Georgetown Times 09/26/10
12-foot gator killed at local plantation
GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Big ’un.
Those two words certainly fit the 12-foot-long alligator taken at Rosemont Plantation last Monday by Shannon Fenters and Fitz Allison.
The alligator weighed 748 pounds.
Fenters is caretaker for the 1,000-acre former rice plantation at the edge of Georgetown, the Black River and Walmart.
Allison and his wife Martha Parker Allison have lived on the land in the house they built in 1991.
He retired as Episcopal bishop for the diocese of South Carolina in 1990.
Allison and Fenters have been keeping their eyes on the big gator for a while.
For the most part, this alligator and others on the plantation tend to their own business. Recently, however, algae has gotten into the “reserve” ponds at Rosemont. What looks like a scum on top of the water is hurting aquatic life.
Allison bought some sterile, grass-eating carp to help control the algal blooms and algae.
However, the big gator was a possible threat to working the ponds and to the expensive carp that are used in an effort to control the algae without chemicals.
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