Sullivan's island maritime forest
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Information and language courtesy of Sullivan's Island for All
Bluestein v Sullivan’s Island Background
On March 16, 2021 Sullivan’s Island Town Council voted 4-2 to approve a New Settlement Agreement in the Bluestein v Sullivan’s Island lawsuit, filed in 2010 when the Plaintiffs (Bluesteins and Albenesius’) were denied the right to cut all the vegetation in front of their properties in the public land trust to 3’. This Settlement replaces the one entered into in October, 2020. Town Council also voted to send the Work Plan, incorporating the terms of the New Settlement, to DHEC/OCRM and Army Corp for their review.
This may be a different deal, but it’s still a bad deal because it removes or severely cuts thousands of trees, shrubs and vegetation in a 150-acre area from Station 16 to 28.5, leaving the island dangerously vulnerable to the #1 threat: hurricane storm surge. It also negatively impacts island resiliency and public health, by removing trees that serve as storm water pumps and introducing the use of herbicides/poison in an area covered by wetlands; damages a sensitive wildlife habitat, home to many species of flora and fauna, including year round and migratory birds, butterflies and sea turtles, and; land set aside for the enjoyment and education of the public.
As with the Original Settlement, Sullivan’s Island Town Council has handed over the keys to the Plaintiffs, their heirs, successors and assigns…into perpetuity…to manage land they do not own for their own benefit, regardless of any negative impact to others or the environment. In asking to cut everything to 3’, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated they understand the value of this natural resource.
Climate change is accelerating, sea levels continue to rise, as do water tables on the island; habitat for wildlife is being lost at an alarming rate; species biodiversity is collapsing; the Plaintiffs decide the fate of islanders’ public safety, public health and resiliency, and the impact on biodiversity, wildlife and the planet. Instead of managing this land to address the #1 threat to the island: hurricane storm surge, Town Council is allowing a few to manage for ocean views and breezes.
Now’s the time to speak. The public deserves a voice on land held in a public land trust. Natural resources should be managed for the best interest of the most people, not the few. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Why was the New Settlement Entered into? The New Settlement was entered into because it was becoming increasingly clear that the Original Settlement would be unlikely to secure the permits from DHEC and Army Corp. The Original Agreement was binding, and neither party was allowed to interfere in the permitting process or appeal the issuance of any permit. Town Council was under no obligation to offer the Plaintiffs new terms if they no longer liked the settlement they negotiated or were unable to secure the permits. Nonetheless, they did. Once again, without giving the public any chance to weigh in on land set aside in a public land trust.
Five Ways the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest Benefits Humans and Wildlife
1. Public Safety
a. Micro – the #1 threat on the island is from hurricane storm surge; science tells us that the height x density x coverage x type of vegetation (‘the vegetative wall’) provides the most important protection. This Settlement removes our protection, leaving us dangerously vulnerable.
b. Macro – climate change is accelerating. We need trees more than ever.
2. Resiliency – this land plays a significant role in the island’s resiliency plan.
3. Public Health – this area is filled with wetlands
a. Mosquitoes – fewer trees means more standing water means more mosquitoes. b. Introduction of Poisonous herbicides – children play in this land, it is home to wildlife, it could be absorbed into our water table, storm water could runoff into the marsh, used as recreation area and fishing
4. Public Benefit
a. Natural Spaces for the public to play in, learn in and be in are rapidly disappearing. Maritime Forests are incredibly rare.
a. Breeding Ground (loss of habitat – trees and myrtles -- poison)
b. Food Source (loss of significant amounts of vegetation – trees, myrtles, other vegetation)
c. Ecosystems are interconnected.
d. Year Round Home to birds, lizards, rabbits, foxes, insects, etc.
e. Turtles – removing vegetation could introduce light pollution into nesting areas f. Migratory Birds & Butterflies – wetlands, resting places, food
Five Things you can to do to help Save the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest and Stop the Chop!
1. Contact Campsen, Bustos and Mace
a. Message: 1) We support preserving the maritime forest on Sullivan’s Island in its natural state for the safety and health of the public, our wildlife partners and for the enjoyment of the public at large. 2) We ask you to call DHEC and Army Corp and ensure the public has an opportunity for public comments and a public hearing. This land was put in a trust for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, and the public has not had a chance to have OUR voices heard. 3) As environmentalists, we urge you to take a public stand with us.
2. Sign Petition to Stop the Chop and ask 5 friends to sign
3. Contact DHEC and Army Corp
a. Message: We oppose cutting in the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest. This land should be managed for the benefit of the many, not the few. We want to be added to the Public Interest List to receive notification of public comment periods and hearings related to the issuance of permits.
4. Like and Follow our Facebook Page to learn more about the issue and opportunities to help 5. Make a Donation to support Sullivan’s Island For All in its mission to preserve the SI Maritime Forest in its natural state.
Sullivan’s Island For All – Resources:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SI4All
Hashtags: #StoptheChop #SaveOurSIMaritimeForest #SIForAll #SullivansIslandForAll
Contact Info for Elected Officials
• SC Senator “Chip” Campsen (843) 722-0123
• SC Representative “Joe” Bustos (803) 212-6880
• U.S. Representative Nancy Mace (843) 521-2530 or (202) 225-3176
Contact Info for DHEC and Army Corp
Elizabeth Von Kolnitz, Chief, DHEC-OCRM
Travis Hughes, Corps of Engineers
Sullivan’s Island For All
1985 Riviera Drive, Suite 103, Box 201
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
NOTE: While Sullivan’s Island For All is a nonprofit corporation, it is classified as a social welfare organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and, therefore, contributions or gifts to Sullivan’s Island For All are not tax deductible as charitable contributions.