Sullivan's Island Maritime Forest
Why is it important?
Sullivan’s Island maritime forest is an exquisite area of vegetation growing between the Atlantic ocean and the island. The forest houses a variety of vegetation and wildlife that support its high levels of biodiversity. The land is involved in year round migrations of several charismatic fauna, such as birds, butterflies, and sea turtles.
The forest itself provides the barrier island with several environmental services that often go unnoticed. The thick vegetation and root system of the forest protects the island from one of the coast’s biggest threats, hurricane storm surges. The roots also hold the sediment intact to prevent the beach from eroding. These roots also soak up water that contains diseases threatening human health.
The Land Fight
A new plan approved by the town council will allow the removal or severe cutting of thousands of trees, shrubs and vegetation in a 150-acre area. This will leave the island dangerously vulnerable to hurricane storm surges. Without a natural barrier to mitigate the impact of these surges, the island will face these dangerously tall walls of water head on.
The plan also negatively impacts island resiliency and public health. It will remove trees that serve as storm water pumps to protect the public from water-borne diseases and introduce the use of herbicides/poisons. These chemicals could damage the forest and the wildlife that lives there. Land set aside for the enjoyment and education of the public would be destroyed. These toxins could also seep into the local water table or run into local marsh used for recreation.
Alongside the island’s removal of the vegetation, worsening climate change will continue to raise sea levels and degrade the maritime forest at alarming rates. Hundreds of species will soon face losing their habitat. Endangered Sea Turtles could face extinction as removing vegetation introduces light pollution into their nesting areas. Removal of these trees will only accelerate further atmospheric warming and the consequences of global warming. It is essential that actions be taken soon to prevent further loss of this essential environment.
How to get involved
Contact Local Officials
Your Message: We support preserving the maritime forest on Sullivan’s Island in its natural state for the safety, health, and enjoyment of the public and our wildlife partners. We ask you to ensure the community has an opportunity for public comments and discussion with DHEC and the Army Corps. This land was put in a trust for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, and we have not had the chance to have our voices heard. As environmentalists, we urge you to take a public stand with us and speak up against this issue
SC Senator “Chip” Campsen: (843) 722-123
SC Representative “Joe” Bustos: (803) 212-6880
U.S. Representative Nancy Mae: (843) 521-2530 or (202) 225-3176
Elizabeth Von Kolnitz, Chief, DHEC-OCRM: (843) 953-0252,
Travis Hughes, Corps of Engineers: (843) 329-8044,