News and Happenings

Come Along with Collie, our Land Preservation Specialist, as he sets out on a trip to Spring Island to chat about all things native plants, garden aesthetics, rain gardens, and more with Karl Ohlandt, Landscape Ecologist at the Spring Island Land Trust. Check out this three part series on our Youtube channel!

Episode 1: The Importance of Native Plants
Watch Now!

Episode 2: Garden Aesthetics & Rain Gardens
Watch Now!

Episode 3: Living in the Natural Environment
Coming Soon!

Sep 29, 5-7:30pm

Butterflies & Beach Music

Join us as we wrap up the summer in style with our Shaggin' the Summer Away Garden Party!
We'll have live beach music from The Vistas, pizza and tacos from Coastal Crust, a native plant sale, garden tours featuring butterfly talks with special guest Billy McCord (Ecologist/Naturalist at McCord Ecological Services), butterfly identification and much more!
When: Wednesday, Sep 29, 5-7:30pm
Where: Naturally Kiawah Demonstration Garden in Night Heron

Tidal estuaries and salt marshes, found at the terminus of watersheds on Kiawah Island, are considered some of the most biologically productive habitats in the world. Not only do tidal salt marshes provide exceptional habitat for wildlife, but they also provide many services to humans by regulating water quality, protecting against storm surges, and reducing erosion. Water resources in coastal habitats are dynamic and are impacted by various contributing factors. Monitoring water resources and how they are influenced helps to provide information on their current conditions. By integrating and expanding upon the various monitoring efforts on Kiawah Island, the Conservancy can determine how to best approach stewardship and perpetual protection of our tidal salt marsh habitats.


In August, Town Council approved for the Town of Kiawah Island (TOKI) to provide $50,000 in funding for t­he Kiawah Conservancy’s Integrated Watershed Study. The project is focused on integrating and expanding upon existing monitoring efforts on Kiawah Island. The data gathered will be used to create water budgets for the various watersheds on Kiawah Island, as well as understand water quality in nearby estuarine tidal creeks. Funding will be used by the Conservancy to purchase weather stations and water quality monitoring equipment to continuously collect environmental data. Conservancy staff will collaborate with TOKI and Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA) staff to integrate data gathering and develop water budgets. In addition, the data will be used to help identify priority areas for green infrastructure practices to assist with stormwater mitigation and treatment.

November 7, 2021 at 6pm

Cocktails, Dinner, Music & Auctions


Sunday, November 7, 2021
at 6 o'clock in the evening
The Carolina Ballroom
West Beach Conference Center
Kiawah Island


Cocktail attire

Event SOLD OUT. To be added to the wait list please consider calling 843-768-2029 or emailing

Thank you to our presenting partner, Palmetto Exterminators.

We love nature, but exploring the outdoors comes with its share of risks. A knowledge of emergency first aid is invaluable especially when exploring remote locations, which is why we’re happy to have someone certified in Wilderness First Aid on our staff! 

Jennifer Woody Wilson, Senior Communications Coordinator at the Kiawah Conservancy, recently earned this certification so she could be better prepared in case of an emergency while she’s out in remote environments. Learn more about  the Wilderness First Aid certification in the interview below:

What did you have to do to complete your Wilderness First Aid certification?

  • Persons taking this course must be at least 14 years of age and have a current adult CPR/AED certification.

  • The course requires 16 hours of in-person, hands-on learning (both bookwork and scenario practicals) under the direction of a certified Wilderness First Aid Instructor. There is also an examination at the end of the course (written and practical)

  • It is a 2-year certification. The course must be retaken in full to renew.

What made you decide to pursue this certification?

  • Early in my employment on Kiawah Island, I volunteered with the Kiawah Island Marathon. During my volunteer time, a runner went into cardiac arrest at my station. At that time I didn't have CPR/AED certification and wished I had. Luckily a few others in our vicinity were able to begin CPR while the rest of us redirected the runners away from the scene.  With early CPR and quick EMS response, the person was resuscitated and taken to the hospital where they received further care. This led me to pursue CPR/AED certification in future years so that I was prepared should a similar incident occur.  Recently, through my volunteer work with the Boy Scouts of America, I learned of a more intense first aid program for emergencies and incidents in the backcountry. Knowing that the Conservancy often leads field trips and stewardship teams into some of Kiawah's more remote areas, I thought this training would serve as an additional safeguard.

Why is it important to have a Wilderness First Aid certification?

  • This course is designed for scouts, scout leaders, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone who works or spends time in remote environments. It teaches advanced skills for use in emergencies when help from professional first responders may be far away. It also aligns with OSHA’s Best Practices for Workplace First Aid Training Programs. You can never be too prepared in the event of an emergency or accident especially when you're travelling or working in remote areas where professional help may take longer to reach you.

  • Wilderness First Aid training is not just for use in the backcountry.  It is just as relevant in urban areas during hurricanes, floods, fires, or mass casualty events when emergency services might be strained.

Would you recommend others who spend a lot of time outdoors also get certified?

  • Being in remote areas or out of cell service comes with inherent risks. Wilderness First Aid teaches you how to recognize and treat serious injuries until further help can arrive. It also teaches you to recognize illnesses early so you can minimize the potential for further injury. I would definitely recommend it to anyone travelling off the beaten path.

What are some ways others can learn more about wilderness first aid so they can be prepared for emergencies when they go out into nature?

  • The American Red Cross offers a variety of first aid and emergency certification classes including Wilderness First Aid certification. Check it out and see what might fit your needs.

  • The Emergency Care and Safety Institute also offers Wilderness First Aid certification among other first aid and emergency training courses. You can find a training location near you at their website

Come along with Collie, the Land Preservation Specialist at the Conservancy, as he visits Roots & Shoots Nursery and discusses some of the best native plants to feature in your yard!

From longleaf pine trees to beautyberry shrubs, learn more about some of the best plants you can add to your yard to help native wildlife.

As we continue to work towards our vision of a Kiawah Island where the unique natural environment is preserved for generations to come, we're shifting our mission to better meet the needs of conservation on Kiawah Island. With our new mission, we measure, manage, improve, and advocate for the ecological health of Kiawah Island and its environs.

To fulfill this mission and move towards the realization of our vision, we will be making a few key shifts in our organization's focus. We will take a greater focus on the overall ecological health of Kiawah Island, take a more active role in conservation, include the surrounding environs of the Island, and advocate for the viability of the natural habitat.

We thank all of our supporters for believing in our vision of a natural, thriving Kiawah. To learn more about how we're shifting to better protect Kiawah's natural environments, read our 2030 Strategic Plan.

Wednesday, May 26, 5-7pm

We're opening the season with a garden soiree to celebrate the natural beauty of Kiawah Island with live music and delicious food and drink, all in our beautiful Naturally Kiawah Demonstration Garden in Night Heron Park! Register early here.

We will have garden tours led by ecologists from the Conservancy and the Spring Island Trust (SIT); music by local band Southbound 17; food from local food trucks; beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages; a native plant sale and more.

On the tour, Lee Bundrick, Sr. Ecological Health and Conservation Coordinator for the Kiawah Conservancy, will discuss embracing nature by using native plants in your landscape, while Karl Ohlandt, Landscape Ecologist for SIT covers how to bring birds and butterflies to your garden using native plants. If you’re a gardener, be sure to ask questions and collect information!

Planted in 2013, the Naturally Kiawah Demonstration Garden has grown into an excellent outdoor classroom showcasing plants that are native or adapt well to local conditions, including deer, heavy rain, hurricane strength winds, and more.

All are welcome to attend! Food and beverage is available for a donation. We will be taking cash and credit. Advance registration requested. Spaces are limited so get your tickets today!

Bring your own seating. We will be following all Town of Kiawah Island COVID-19 ordinances and protocols. In the event of inclement weather, a rain date will be set.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 26, 5-7pm
WHERE: Naturally Kiawah Demonstration Garden in Night Heron Park

Want to help make a difference while you shop in the Amazon app, at no extra cost to you? Simply follow the instructions below to select "The Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy Inc" as your charity and activate AmazonSmile in the app. They'll donate a portion of your eligible mobile app purchases to us.

How it works:

1. Open the Amazon app on your phone
2. Select the main menu (=) & tap on "AmazonSmile" within Programs & Features
3. Select "The Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy Inc" as your charity
4. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate AmazonSmile in the mobile app


Not signed up for AmazonSmile yet? Here’s how you can start shopping today and support the Kiawah Conservancy on your computer or mobile:

1. Visit
2. Sign in with your credentials
3. Choose a charitable organization to receive donations, or search for the charity of your choice
4. Select your charity
5. Start shopping!

Have trouble remembering to shop with AmazonSmile? With the browser extension Smilematic, you can automatically get redirected to AmazonSmile every time you shop with Amazon. Check it out with the link below:

April 19-24

Celebrate Earth Week with the Kiawah Conservancy

Monday 4/19

Nature Walk with Lee

Join us for a walk in the Preserve with Lee Bundrick, our Sr. Ecological Health and Conservation Coordinator. Lee will be talking all things native plants, from their role in Kiawah's ecosystem to how to use them in landscaping. Capacity for this event is limited, so be sure to register soon.

Video Interview with Lynne Sager of Turtle Patrol

With loggerhead turtle nesting season right around the corner, now is the perfect time to learn about how you can help protect some of Kiawah's cutest residents when they begin to hatch. Tune in to this video to learn about the work of the Turtle Patrol and how you can get involved.



Tuesday 4/20

Flood Mitigation Webinar with Lucas Hernandez

Learn about what the Kiawah Island Community Association, the Town of Kiawah Island, and the Conservancy are doing to make Kiawah the most resilient community on the East Coast with KICA's Resilience Specialist, Lucas Hernandez.


Wednesday 4/21

Kiawah's Bobcats: Now You See Them, Now You Don't Webinar with Jim Jordan

Learn about the past, present, and future of bobcats and the research surrounding them on Kiawah with Jim Jordan, Wildlife Biologist for the Town of Kiawah Island.

Nature Walk with Lee

Join us for a walk in the Preserve with Lee Bundrick, our Sr. Ecological Health and Conservation Coordinator. Lee will be talking all things native plants, from their role in Kiawah's ecosystem to how to use them in landscaping. Capacity for this event is limited, so be sure to register soon.


Thursday 4/22

Earth Day Storytime with Amy Fordham

Get the little ones ready for a virtual Earth Day Storytime with Amy Fordham of Charleston County Public Library, taking place in our Naturally Kiawah Demonstration Garden. We'll have stories, songs, and nature talks, so be sure to join in!

Tag-Along with Lauren Rust of LMMN Video

Tune in to see our team join Lauren Rust on a day on the job of the founder and executive director of Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network.

Friday 4/23

Nature Walk with Dr. Jane Ellis

Join us for a nature walk around Kiawah Conservancy's Conifer Lane property with Dr. Jane Ellis as she shares her knowledge of the medicinal value of the plants of maritime forests. Capacity for this event is limited, so be sure to register soon.


Bedtime Story with Amy Fordham

Tuck the kids into bed and set them off to sleep with a few bedtime stories about nature and gardening, read by Amy Fordham of the Charleston County Public Library

Saturday 4/24

Dolphin Count Live Stream with LMMN - POSTPONED TO 5/22

Dear Kiawah Neighbor,
Earlier this week, we were informed of a denning bobcat on the Kiawah Conservancy’s preserved property at Ocean Course Drive (the Ocean Course Drive Nature Area). This den, containing two bobcat kittens, is welcome news amidst serious concerns about the declining bobcat population. However, while checking on the den site, Town Biologists noticed pruning and vegetative removal occurring near the den. This work disturbed the denning site and caused the female to abandon the site. It is our hope that she took her kittens with her and established another den nearby.
It was also noted that other nearby portions of the preserved property had been cleared of vegetation. This vegetative clearing caused a significant negative impact to the natural habitat and conservation values within the preserved property. The Conservancy is aware of this issue and is continuing to review and monitor the status of the area.
Selective pruning of natural vegetation in habitats used by bobcats can be beneficial to their reproductive success. However, this type of land management must be done carefully with minimal impact to natural habitat and wildlife. The denning season for bobcats starts in the spring and runs through the summer months. Disturbances within natural habitats for bobcats should be avoided during this timeframe and is recommended to occur within the winter months.
The Conservancy did not permit this pruning and significant vegetation removal. These actions are in direct violation of the restrictions placed on the preserved property. Under the terms outlined for the preserved property, the Conservancy and the Architectural Review Board (ARB) must be notified of any and all actions taken on the property that could potentially impact its conservation value. In this instance, the guidelines were not followed and conservation values were negatively impacted. Once made aware of the situation, the Conservancy requested that work stop immediately and is contacting individual violators to discuss retribution for damages to the preserved areas. In addition, the Conservancy will continue to contact all property owners who live near preserved properties to ensure they understand regulations and restrictions as they pertain to those properties.
We encourage property owners living nearby or visiting our preserved properties to contact us with any questionable actions or concerns you may notice on our properties. Although we monitor our properties regularly, we cannot be there all of the time. Your help is crucial to ensuring conservation success!
Roland Hoffman
Chair, Kiawah Conservancy Board of Trustees
Pine Trees

Plants in nature and in the residential landscape provide many benefits for humans and wildlife. Of all the types of plants available, native plants found naturally in the region are more suited for local conditions, tolerating several environmental extremes found on barrier islands. They also provide the most ecological benefits to wildlife.

Pine trees play a surprisingly big role in Kiawah's ecosystem. They are adept at living in a range of environments and can live hundreds of years. Learn more about the species of pine trees found on Kiawah Island and the important role they play in our environment in this episode of Learning with Lee.



We’re going bird watching! If you’ve spent much time around Kiawah’s ponds and lagoons, you’ve probably seen anhingas diving for fish or sunning their wings on nearby branches. Now, spot them in this week’s episode of Learning with Lee!

Whether you know them as "snakebirds," "water turkeys," or "darters," learn all about these high-flying water birds.


2030 Strategic Plan

Why did you come to Kiawah? Was it for the or miles of pristine beach and bike trails, the beautiful rivers and marshlands, the lush natural vegetation, the abundant wildlife, the generations of memories your family has made here? Whatever the reason, the Kiawah
Conservancy is here to preserve and protect what you love about Kiawah Island.

The Conservancy was founded 1997 to maintaining the natural beauty and habitat of Kiawah Island. Since that time the Conservancy has focused on preserving properties, educating the public on the importance of preservation, fundraising, protecting natural habitats, and sharing with the world what a remarkable place Kiawah Island is.

In 2010 the Conservancy wrote its first multi-year strategic plan. Since then, we have:

  • Continued to preserve natural lands (52 properties = 2,273 acres)
  • Expanded our donor base (523 individual donors, 23 businesses, 25 foundations and trusts)
  • Increased our annual operating budget (approximately $1 million)
  • Increased our educational programing (40 programs annually)
  • Communicated with over 14,000 people annually through our Naturally Kiawah magazines and electronic newsletters
  • Interacted with thousands through social media and digital education programs.
  • Produced numerous documentaries on some of Kiawah’s most iconic wildlife species.

Now, with more than 23 years of knowledge and experience under our belts, it’s the ideal time to chart a path forward and build on that momentum. Through our new 2030 Strategic Plan we are laying a foundation that will guide our growth as we strive to dramatically extend our reach and broaden our impact.

Join us in ensuring the natural beauty and ecological health of Kiawah Island is preserved for generations to come.

Learn More



Sharks and Rays: Not a mean bone in their body

Dive into our newest Conservation Matters program, Sharks and Rays: Not a mean bone in their body, presented by Dr. David Plourd. You'll not only learn about whale sharks and manta rays, but you might just swim away with a new perspective and appreciation for these seemingly frightening creatures!


Wax Myrtle

Plants in nature and in the residential landscape provide many benefits for humans and wildlife. Of all the types of plants available, native plants found naturally in the region are more suited for local conditions, tolerating several environmental extremes found on barrier islands. They also provide the most ecological benefits to wildlife.

One of the most common, yet exceptional native plants found on Kiawah Island is the southern wax myrtle. Learn more about the wax myrtle and its importance in this issue of Learning with Lee.


Kiawah's Wildlife Species Need Your Help Now!

Bobcats are one of the most unique species on Kiawah Island and catching a glimpse of one is on the bucket list of almost every Kiawah resident and visitor alike. Unfortunately, in recent years, the use of anticoagulant rodenticides has caused an increase in bobcat deaths. In recent testing additional willdife species (five raccoons and one opossum) also tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticides in their system. This new eidence confirms the dangers and impacts to Kiawah's wildlife.

How can you help save Kiawah's bobcats? All Kiawah property owners are encouraged to take the pledge to stop using antigoagulant rodenticides on their property and become a Bobcat Guardian today. Visit to learn more and take the pledge today.

See the lists of pest control providers that have and have NOT signed the Bobcat Guardian Provider Pledge on our Wildlife Perservation Efforts page.




September 15, 2020

The Kiawah Conservancy’s Position Statement on the Use of Anticoagulant Rodenticides on Kiawah Island

The Issue and Current Understanding

The Kiawah Conservancy (Conservancy) has been working in concert with the Town of Kiawah Island (TOKI) concerning the use of anticoagulant rodenticides and their deleterious effects on our bobcat population here on Kiawah Island. Not only do these anticoagulants poison our bobcats, but they also poison additional rodent predators such as eagles, owls, hawks, snakes, raccoons, alligators, and other animals.

In 2017 TOKI’s wildlife biologists saw a noticeable increase in bobcat deaths and decrease in bobcat numbers. Recently a number of bobcats found dead were determined to have been killed by anticoagulant rodenticides. We have been able to document that the extensive use of these chemicals was directly responsible for at least seven bobcat deaths between May 2019 and July 2020. Evidence is showing that we now have less than 10 bobcats left on the Island as of September 2020 out of an historic population of 30-35.*

The loss of Kiawah’s bobcats has caused a dynamic change in our ecosystem with one critical effect being the dramatic increase in the deer population. We are seeing an increase in deer-car collisions and an increased risk of the spread of diseases carried by these animals. Also the deer are foraging on vegetation that they do not normally consume. For the first time TOKI has been forced to implement a deer management plan to be carried out in the fall of 2020.

Community Discussion and Recommendations

TOKI’s Environmental Committee and Town Council heard presentations at a number of meetings regarding the significant loss of bobcats and the dramatic effects on Kiawah Island’s ecosystem. After contacting the state of South Carolina’s Pesticide Regulatory Board, it was determined that Kiawah could not ban the use of these harmful chemicals on the Island and the board refused to allow a one-year temporary ban.

Also upon learning about the problem of anticoagulant rodenticides the Conservancy’s Environmental Science Committee formed an Ad Hoc Committee to study their use. After much research and discussion this committee produced two documents: “The Kiawah Conservancy’s Recommended Steps to Control Rodents in Homes on Kiawah Island” and “The Conservancy's Recommendation of Rodenticides to Use as a Last Resort in IPM (Integrated Pest Management)”.

The elimination of anticoagulant rodenticides on Kiawah is widely supported by Island entities (TOKI, Kiawah Island Community Association, Kiawah Partners, Kiawah Island Architectural Review Board, and Kiawah Island Golf Resort), businesses, homeowners, and rental companies. The Coastal Conservation League and others off island support the elimination of these poisons on Kiawah.

Kiawah Conservancy Position

The Conservancy fully supports the elimination of anticoagulant rodenticides on Kiawah Island. It is imperative that we ban the use of these harmful chemicals as soon as possible. The Conservancy will promote the best practices to help alleviate the problems we are seeing. The Kiawah Conservancy will use all possible outlets including our social media platforms to educate the public, stakeholders, Island entities, homeowners, real estate and rental companies, and pesticide providers on this issue.

 * Reference: TOKI email (August 13, 2020) "Bobcat News - Temporary SGA Ban Denied"


Yaupon Holly

Check out our latest episode of Learning with Lee and learn all about Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria). Did you know yaupon hollies can be found growing naturally in the maritime forest and salt shrub thicket? Tune in at 3pm today and learn all about this Kiawah native.

Willdlife-Friendly Landscapes

Check out our latest episode of Learning with Lee and learn about Kiawah Island's native plants and how they encourage wildlife within our island landscapes.

Terrestrial Invertebrates and Plants on the Dune System of Kiawah Island

Join us for Conservation Matters: Terrestrial Invertebrates and Plants on the Dune System of Kiawah Island with Dr. Eric McElroy


Watch and learn as Dr Eric McElroy from the College of Charleston shares his fascinating research results from his 2019 study of Terrestrial Invertebrates and Plants on the Dune System of Kiawah Island. Plants provide stability, protection, and biodiversity on the dunes and are important for the ecological health of Kiawah Island. It is interesting that although the dunes may appear similar when viewing from the beach, there are significant differences in the specific survey areas.

Naturally Kiawah Pathways Tours

Discover stories unique to Kiawah as you enjoy our Naturally Kiawah Pathways tours through the free TravelStorys app.

Take a virtual Naturally Kiawah Pathways tour today to explore and learn about the habitats, wildlife, and history of Kiawah Island from the comfort of your home. There are eight exciting options to choose from:

Kiawah Paddling
Beach Scavenger Hunt
Kiawahs' Ponds: A Wildlife Wonderland
Western Kiawah Island
Central Kiawah Island
Eastern Kiawah Island
Kiawah Photography
The Preserve

Combined together, the tours will take you from the far eastern sections of the Island to Freshfields Village in the west and from the beach to the Kiawah River.

Downloading the TravelStorys App:

1. Download the TravelStorys app on the App Store or Google Play and follow the prompts.
2. Allow “notifications” to take advantage of using the self-guided GPS-activated component when accessing the tours in-person while on Kiawah.
3. Select one of the tours and download it by touching the down arrow at the bottom of the screen.


Take A Virtual Tour:

1. After downloading and opening your selected tour, select “Map” to see different points of interest on the map.
2. Select one of the points of interest to listen to commentary and see an accompanying photo slideshow.
3. Continue to select different points on the map to hear about other sights.

Take A Self-Guided GPS Activated Tour (walk, bike, or paddle):

1. Turn on the tour on your mobile device.
2. Go to one of the points of interest located on the tour.
3. Commentary along with a photo slideshow will automatically begin as you approach each featured point of interest.
4. Proceed to the next point of interest to hear new commentary.


Kiawah's Butterflies

Check out our latest episode of Learning with Lee and learn all about some of Kiawah's most colorful creatures... Butterflies!

Meet Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (LMMN) Executive Director Lauren Rust and learn how the LMMN is working to protect marine mammals around the Lowcountry through science, education, and conservation. The LMMN provides a variety of educational programs throughout the Charleston area including the Kiawah Island Dolphin Education Program.