Friends of Hunting Island: Stewards of nature

Hunting Island Beach:  Four miles of treasured, natural coast.   Photo courtesy of Eric R. Smith

Friends of Hunting Island State Park was founded in 1993 to help preserve and enhance the unique bio-diversity of South Carolina’s Hunting Island State Park.  Friends of Hunting Island offers it’s members an effective and fun way to assist Hunting Island State Park in conserving the natural wonders and promoting the educational opportunities that exist on the island.  Since it’s founding, membership has swollen from a handul of individuals to hundreds of active families.  However, as the park’s popularity and it’s usage increases, especially Hunting Island Beach, so do it’s many needs…and more help is always welcome.

It’s nice to see photos of the Sea Turtles, and the nests, and the volunteers helping out.  But you can actually be a part of it all too, instead of just standing by.
Read on, and learn more…

It’s a huge job to maintain and help improve four miles of beach and 5,000 acres of rare maritime forest.  It also requires many volunteer hours to support the diversity of activities and programs available to the more than 1.2 million annual park visitors.  Friends of Hunting Island assists the park in being able to offer something to all of these visitors.  Volunteers are passionate coastal stewards in helping to preserve the natural beauty of Hunting Island, with hundreds pitching in all year long to help.

Friends of Hunting Island volunteers conduct tours at the Hunting Island Lighthouse and help maintain and improve the lighthouse complex.  Volunteers also give talks about alligators, go on litter patrols, and participate in the Turtle Rescue Program.  With volunteer assistance, Friends of Hunting Island has created educational exhibits, water gardens, built oyster reefs, improved beach access, and continued dune building and maintenance.

Turtles, turtles, and more turtles are always on everyone’s mind throughout the Beaufort area.  Thanks to Friends of Hunting Island’s participation in the Endangered Loggerhead Turtle Rescue Program, more Loggerhead turtle hatchlings will reach the sea from Hunting Island Beach than ever before.

Turtle season extends yearly from mid-May until the end of September.  Turtle Team volunteers are fully trained and licensed each year in the proper procedures for locating, probing, and if necessary, transferring the newly-laid eggs to a safer location where they remain until the hatchlings make their journey into the ocean.

Ask any seasoned volunteer what it means to be a  ’Turtler’ and you’ll hear about breathtaking sunrises, the excitement of discovering a nest, the joy of encountering a turtle, and the deep satisfaction in seeing the tiny hatchlings return safely to the sea.

There’s also some time for celebratory activities throughout the year as well with Friends of Hunting Island hosting the Pelican Plunge, a 5K Walk/Run, the annual Sand Sculpture Contest and much more.

Friends of Hunting Island is always looking for volunteers.  There is so much to do and so many new ‘friends’ to make.  How can you help?
-Join the Endangered Loggerhead Turtle Rescue Program
-Conduct lighthouse tours and give alligator talks
-Participate in educational programs at the Nature Center
-Work on trails, dunes, and stabilization, and landscaping projects
-Share your expertise through committee and board service

For more information, and for a membership application, please visit Friends of Hunting Island, here.

Lend a hand.
A few days a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Some information gathered for this article from www.friendsofhuntingisland.org)

 

 

 

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