Preserved Lands

Preserved Lands

Little Rabbit North
Conservation Easement

NEW - Preserved March 6, 2018

Size:  1 acres

Location:  Between Mingo South and "Mainland" Kiawah Island

Habitat Type: Hummock Island, Maritime Forest

Conservation Value:

This 5-acre upland “finger,” that extends out into the marsh, is situated between Mingo South and “mainland” Kiawah Island.

Rabbit North, a piece of a hummock island bisected by the Kiawah Island Parkway, provides key habitat for several unique and at risk species. Data collected via GPS collars since 2007 indicates that bobcats regularly utilize the property. The Town of Kiawah Island’s “Bobcat Management Guidelines” (2014) delineates two nearby “Important Bobcat Areas,” used primarily for daytime resting cover. The salt shrub thicket habitat that forms the perimeter of Rabbit North provides key resting and movement habitat for bobcats. The property also likely provides habitat for additional mammals, including white-tailed deer, raccoons, opossums and rodents. Besides bobcats, Rabbit North is used by a variety of birds, including painted buntings, cedar waxwings, Carolina chickadees, and red-bellied woodpeckers. The federally listed “at risk” monarch butterfly finds a robust foraging area here, as the numerous groundsel trees provide a vital fall food source for migrating and overwintering butterflies.

In addition to the typical marsh edge and hummock island plants, such as black needlerush, sea ox-eye daisy, southern red cedar, and live oak, Rabbit North contains southern magnolia, laurel oak, loblolly pine, slash pine, and pignut hickory in its upland areas. Unique understory plants found on Rabbit North include Hercules club, coral bean (in abundance), and partridgeberry. These plants are more typically encountered in Kiawah’s maritime forests.

Briar's Creek Marsh
Conservation Easement

Preserved April 2007

Size: 138.07 acres

Location:  East of Bryan's Creek

Habitat Type: Tidal Salt Marsh and Hummock Island

Conservation Value: This easement protects a wide expanse of marsh just east of Bryan's Creek.  The easement property also contains three hummock islands.  Hummock islands are coastal marsh islands, often located behind oceanfront barrier islands and adjacent to the larger Sea Islands (such as Johns Island).   In addition to providing habitat for a number of species, they are of special importance to migratory birds, as they are frequently used as stopover areas for resting and feeding along migration flyways.

Kiawah River Marsh East
Conservation Easement

NEW - Preserved March 2018

Size:  1,150 acres

Location:  Marsh East

Habitat Type: Hummock, High Marsh, Intertidal Marsh, Tidal Creek, and Salt Shrub Thicket

Conservation Value:

The Marsh East tract is dominated by smooth cordgrass and is interspersed with mud flats, and natural oyster bars. It also includes some areas of high marsh that consists of sea oxeye, saltwort, black needlerush, slender glasswort, salt grass, salthay, and marsh fimbryOpen salt flats also occur that are sparsely vegetated with slender glasswort and salt grass. There are numerous tidal creeks that bisect the intertidal marsh that all stem from the main branch of the Kiawah River. Hummock islands are scattered throughout the intertidal marsh and are dominated by salt shrub thickets and/or maritime forests.  Salt shrub thicket vegetation includes several of the high marsh plants as well as groundsel tree, yaupon holly, seaside goldenrod, saltwater false willow, sea lavender, and marsh elderThe forested portions of these hummocks include loblolly pine, cabbage palmetto, southern red cedar, live oak, wax myrtle, and greenbrier. In addition, the Marsh East tract includes an important ecotone fringe at the transition zone of the marsh and larger maritime forests of Kiawah Island.

The hummock, high marsh, intertidal marsh, tidal creek, and salt shrub thicket habitats found within the Marsh East tract support a variety of wildlife including wading birds, shorebirds, and furbearers as well as secretive marsh birds.  The detrital cycle of the high and intertidal marsh produces decaying plant material, which serves as the basis of the estuarine food chain.  Recreational and commercially important species supported by these marshes include shrimp, blue crab, oysters, and numerous fish species.  The island hummocks are particularly important for neotropical songbird migrants as seasonal and stopover habitats.  Additionally, the habitats within this tract have the potential to support a variety of rare and endangered species such as the clapper rail, yellow rail, white ibis, whimbrel, American oystercatcher, royal tern, little blue heron, wood stork, and American bittern, all of which are listed as “Highest Priority” species per the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.  Other priority species include the great egret, MacGillivray’s seaside sparrow, black-bellied plover, tricolored heron, brown pelican, willet, greater yellowlegs, bald eagle, semipalmated plover, snowy egret, Carolina chickadee, sora rail, spotted sandpiper, and great blue heron.  In addition to being a “Highest Priority” species, the wood stork is also listed as a federally threatened species.  Several federal At-Risk Species are listed for Charleston County and could occur within the habitats of the Marsh East tract.  These include MacGillivray’s seaside sparrow, Monarch butterfly, Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, black rail, and Godfrey’s privet 

Bass Creek Hummock Island
Owned Property

NEW - Preserved December 2017

Size:  9.8 acres

Location:  Bass Creek

Habitat Type: Salt shrub thicket and maritime forest

Conservation Value: The Bass Creek Nature Area consists of salt shrub thicket and maritime forest habitats. Undeveloped hummock islands, like this one, provide critical resting space for migratory songbirds.  This island is also utilized by a variety of mammals and reptiles.  South Carolina Department of Natural Resource studies have documented painted bunting use on this hummock island.  Diamondback terrapin use in this area has been documented as well. 

Mingo North and Mingo South
Conservation Easement

Preserved December 2017

Size:  13.25 Acres

Location:  Entrance to Kiawah Island off of Kiawah Island Parkway

Habitat Type: hummock island, salt shrub thicket, maritime grassland, salt flat, maritime forest

Conservation Value: Mingo North and Mingo South are within a Town of Kiawah Island “Important Bobcat Area” that provides a critical daytime resting area for island bobcats. Additionally, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) studies have documented frequent use of these areas by bobcats. High density of southern red cedar provides abundance of fall and winter fruit for songbirds. Associated salt flats provide foraging space for shorebirds. Shrub thickets and maritime forests such as those found on Mingo North and Mingo South provide habitat for three US Fish and Wildlife Service “at risk species” (monarch butterfly, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, tri-­colored bat) and three SCDNR State Wildlife Action Plan priority species (island glass lizard, painted bunting, tri-colored bat).

Kiawah West End Marsh
Conservation Easement

Preserved December 2017

Size:  720 acres

Location:  Western Kiawah River

Habitat Type: Tidal Salt Marsh and Hummock Island (Primarily Salt Shurb Thicket and Maritime Forest

Conservation Value: Kiawah’s salt marshes provide habitats for two US Fish and Wildlife Service “at risk species” (black rail, McGillivray’s seaside sparrow), seven SCDNR State Wildlife Action Plan priority species (black rail, clapper rail, long billed curlew, yellow rail, marbled godwit, white ibis, whimbrel) and four US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program Strategic Plan focal species (black rail, McGillivray’s seaside sparrow, eastern oyster and semipalmated sandpiper). Additionally, undeveloped hummock islands provide critical resting space for migratory songbirds, such as painted buntings. These small islands are also utilized by a variety of mammals and reptiles, including diamondback terrapins. This marsh and hummock area provices wildlife habitat, critical maritime strand habitats, greenspace and scenic viewsheds, protection of water quality, and will provide a catalyst for future projects along the Kiawah River.

Bass Creek Nature Area
Conservation Easement

NEW - Preserved December 2017

Size:  6.83 acres

Location:  Bass Creek

Habitat Type: Tidal salt marsh and salt shrub thicket

Conservation Value: The Bass Creek Nature Area consists of tidal salt marsh and salt shrub thicket habitats. The tidal salt marsh found in the Bass Creek Nature Area provides valuable habitat for a great variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and crustaceans. Many small mammals feed and nest in or adjacent to tidal salt marshes. Although rarely seen, the mink (Mustela vison) can be found there. The salt shrub thicket also provides excellent daytime cover for bobcats (Lynx rufus). The Bass Creek Nature Area has been utilized by several bobcats for daytime resting and protective cover. This is well documented by the Bobcat GPS Project that has been conducted by the Town of Kiawah Island Wildlife Biologists in conjunction with the Kiawah Conservancy.

Marsh Island Park
Conservation Easement

Preserved January 2015

Size:  8.1 acres

Location:  Marsh Island Park

Habitat Type:  Coastal hammock island

Conservation Value:  Marsh Island Park is a coastal hammock island that provides a substantial area of natural habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Research indicates that these island habitats are being increasingly utilized by a number of migratory bird species, including painted buntings. The Marsh Island Park property is also an important daytime resting area and nighttime hunting area for bobcats, and was utilized by an adult female and her kittens in 2007.

Osprey Point Nature Area
Owned Property

NEW - Preserved Janaury 2015

Size: 3.4 acres

Location:  Osprey Point and Flyway Drive

Habitat Type:  Maritime forest, freshwater wetlands, maritime shrub thicket and salt shrub thicket

Conservation Value:  The Osprey Point Nature Area property has been regularly used by bobcats for daytime resting cover and is also a very important travel corridor (as indicated by Bobcat GPS Project data, 2007-current). The property is across Flyway Drive from the Ocean Palms subdivision - an area that was associated with one of the Island's most important bobcat denning habitats prior to its development.  The Osprey Point Nature Area property is large enough to potentially provide an alternative den site in the future.

Ocean Course Drive Nature Area
Owned Property

Preserved January 2015

Size: 3.1 acres

Location:  Adjacent to the Ocean Course, between Ibis Pond and Willet Pond

Habitat Type:  Maritime forest, salt shrub thicket, maritime shrub thicket and tidal salt marsh

Conservation Value:  The diversity of understory-rich habitats at the Ocean Course Drive Nature Area property provides a critical daytime resting and denning area for bobcats.  The property was used as a den site during 2010 and 2012.  In addition, there have been three den sites in areas directly adjacent to the Ocean Course Nature Area property.

Plenty's Island
Owned Property

Preserved December 2002

Size:  2.09 acres

Location:  Located within Horseshoe Creek Marsh near Landfall Way off Seabrook Beach Road

Habitat Types:  Maritime forest, hummock island, tidal salt marsh and salt shrub thicket

Conservation Value:  The marsh adjacent to this hummock island is covered with pluff mud and typical marsh vegetation, including smooth cordgrass, saltwort, broom sedge, marsh elder and sea ox-eye daisy.  There are also abundant shells of mussels and marsh periwinkle. Though the island is only a foot or two higher than the surrounding marsh, its vegetation is that of a mature maritime forest with abundant live oak, loblolly pine, yaupon holly, red cedar and wax myrtle.  Other vegetation on the island includes sweet grass, yucca, broom sedge, coral bean, prickly pear, a variety of catbriers (smilax species) and cabbage palmetto.  The oaks are surprisingly old and well developed, with some up to two feet in diameter. The island harbors a variety of bird life including typical marsh birds:  snowy egret, great egret, great blue heron, cormorants and hooded mergansers.  But the most interesting is the abundance of woodpeckers, including the usual red-bellied woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsuckers and flickers, and the less common (on Kiawah Island) red headed woodpecker.  In addition to these birds, the island also provides habitat for towhee, Carolina wren, yellow-rumped warblers, white-throated sparrow, mockingbird, tufted titmouse and several hawks, including osprey and northern harriers.  The island is used as a secluded nesting site for many of these species.  Other wildlife on the island includes deer, raccoon, opossum and other small animals.  The island is used by a variety of species as a sanctuary where animals can live undisturbed by humankind.

Undeveloped Home Sites
Owned Properties

In addition to the conservation easements it holds on larger properties, the Kiawah Conservancy owns 25 properties across Kiawah Island.

  • The Wassén Preserve located at 9 Airy Hall - 0.29 acres preserved October 1999
  • The Maritime Forest Reserve and Nature Trail located at 133 Conifer Lane - 0.71 acres preserved December 2002
  • 77 New Settlement Road - 0.41 acres preserved February 2004
  • 168 Bluebill Court - 0.67 acres preserved October 2004
  • 25 Arrowhead Hall - 0.49 acres preserved February 2005
  • 141 Red Cedar Lane - 0.27 acres preserved April 2005
  • 107 Marsh Elder Court - 0.63 acres preserved February 2006
  • 41 Marsh Edge Lane - 0.43 acres preserved June 2006
  • 227 Sea Marsh Drive - 0.22 acres preserved November 2006
  • 523 Ruddy Turnstone Drive - 0.35 acres preserved July 2007
  • 38 Berkshire Hall - 0.35 acres preserved July 2007
  • 765 Curlew Court - 0.70 acres preserved September 2007
  • 66 Blue Heron Pond Road - 1.73 acres preserved July 2008
  • 579 Oyster Rake - 0.19 acres preserved December 2008
  • 83x Blue Heron Pond Road - 0.60 acres preserved November 2013
  • 128 Halona Lane - 0.24 acres preserved July 2014
  • 130 Halona Lane - 0.16 acres preserved December 2014
  • 132 Halona Lane - 0.23 acres preserved February 23, 2015
  • 1 & 2 Little Rabbit Lane - 0.59 acres preserved October 29, 2015
  • 60 Salthouse Lane - 0.50 acres preserved December 9, 2015
  • 112 Halona Lane - 0.14 acres preserved November 2016
  • 74 Blue Heron Pond Road - 1.26 acres preserved December 2016
  • 269 Doral Open - 0.36 acres preserved December 2016
  • 134 Halona Lane - 0.37 acres preserved December 20166
  • 120 Halona Lane - 0.21 acres preserved May 2017
  • 118 Halona Lane - 0.17 acres preserved October 2017
  • 114 Halona Lane - 0.18 acres preserved November 2017
  • 12 Grey Widgeon Lane - 0.93 acres preserved November 2017
  • 140 Halona Lane - 0.15 acres preserved November 2017
  • 136 Halona Lane - 0.32 acres preserved December 2017

These undeveloped home sites provide key habitat areas for wildlife resting, nesting, cover and movement.  Although the majority of the habitat associated with these preserved parcels can be characterized as maritime forest, a handful also have salt shrub thicket habitats contiguous to tidal wetlands and or associated “edge” habitats adjacent to brackish ponds.

These areas of mature maritime forest, which often exhibit substantial understory habitat, have great ecological value.  Natural areas, where they exist across the Island, are extremely important to wildlife.  The preservation of these properties maintains important corridors and limits small-scale habitat fragmentation in developed areas.  Additionally, many of the lots owned by the Conservancy adjoin neighboring green spaces, buffer properties or existing natural features, allowing them to add acreage to existing, wildlife-friendly, habitat areas.

Though small, these habitat pockets are frequently used by a variety of wildlife.  In addition to regular bobcat use on many of these properties, as observed through ongoing Bobcat GPS Research, these areas of lightly managed natural habitat provide important nesting space for a variety of resident and migratory songbird species.

Maritime Forest Reserve and Nature Trail
Owned Property

Preserved December 2002

Size: 0.71 acres

Location:  133 Conifer Lane

Habitat Type:  Maritime forest

Conservation Value:  The Maritime Forest Reserve and Nature Trail provides a unique outdoor learning experience. This open-air classroom, located near entrance to the Kiawah community, features a variety of maritime forest plants.  Informative signs located along the trail highlight plant details such as special adaptations and significance to wildlife habitat. Maritime forests, typically found on barrier islands like Kiawah, provide a protective buffer between the mainland and the sea. In addition to island stabilization, these coastal forests also perform other environmental functions such as supporting wildlife habitat, soil production and nutrient conservation. Maritime forests create a natural cooling effect through their shade and act as a buffer against noise. The plant life within the maritime forest habitat is especially tolerant of the rough salt spray, sun and wind conditions that exist on a barrier island. The wide variety of native plants found along the trail are not only beautiful, but are well suited to Kiawah's growing conditions and help sustain wildlife on Kiawah Island.  Bobcats, foxes, deer, rabbits and raccoons are some of the many animals which use the forest as a sheltered resting place and source of food.

Little Bear Island
Conservation Easement

Preserved December 2007

Size:  151.7 acres

Location:  Forming the eastern-most tip of Kiawah, Little Bear Island is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Stono Inlet and is connected to The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort by a small strip of land.

Habitat Types:  Maritime dune shrub thickets, Atlantic maritime dry grasslands, tidal salt marshes, tidal salt flats, salt shrub thickets and coastal beaches

Conservation Value:  Described by a leading conservation easement attorney as “one of the most important conservation easements across the country,” the island hosts a wide variety resident and migratory wildlife species. It's beaches welcome loggerhead turtles that arrive in the spring and summer to nest and dolphins are often seen in Penny’s Creek on the west side of the island. The tidal salt marsh and salt shrub thicket vegetation includes sea ox-eye, glasswort, marsh-elder, sea lavender and seaside goldenrod. Areas that receive salt water daily present a mosaic of black needle rush, saltwort and sea lavender.  Hundreds of fiddler crabs can be seen scurrying around in the saltwort. The tidal salt flats are traversed by trails used by the many deer that inhabit the island.  Footprints of bobcat and raccoon are not uncommon and red-winged blackbirds can be seen frequently flying in and out of the cordgrass. Plant succession on a barrier island away from the influence of salt spray will ultimately result in the development of maritime forests or maritime shrub thickets.  In the maritime forest habitat canopy trees are abundant and include live oak, sand oak, red bay, yaupon holly, red cedar, wax myrtle, hackberry, winged sumac and cabbage palmetto.  An occasional loblolly pine can also be found and several species of smilax, including dune greenbrier, dominate the habitat.  Other common vines include Virginia creeper and muscadine grape.  Atlantic maritime dry grassland plant communities are found on the sand dunes along the Stono River side of Little Bear Island. In this grassland habitat waves of sea oats are flanked by masses of camphorweed, prickly-pear cactus and fiddle-leaf morning glory. Grasses include salthay, seaside panicum, coastal dropseed and sweetgrass. Plants with onerous names such as devil’s joint, sandbur, Spanish bayonet and bear grass also occur in this habitat.

Beck Island
Conservation Easement

Preserved December 2000

Size:  3 acres

Location:  Northern banks of the Kiawah River, between Bryans Creek and Chaplin Creek

Habitat Type:  Hummock island

Conservation Value:  Hummock island provide invaluable habitat for a variety of wildlife species.  Palmettos, live oaks and red cedars are the dominate tree species found on the island, while salt shrub thicket habitat occurs around the edges of the island. A known sanctuary for many wildlife species including painted buntings, wading birds, bobcats, deer and raccoons, a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources study also noted an otter camp on the island.

Otter Island Nature Area
Conservation Easement

Preserved July 2011

Size:  4.88 acres

Location:  Otter Island Road

Habitat Types:  Tidal salt marsh and salt shrub thicket

Conservation Value:  Salt shrub thickets are found on slightly elevated areas of Kiawah Island, adjacent to tidal salt marsh. They are only occasionally flooded by high tides and frequently serve as a transition area between the marsh and forested uplands. These thickets, which often occur as bands or patches of salt tolerant rushes, grasses and shrubs, are heavily used by bobcats as den sites and for resting cover. They are also utilized by a myriad of birds, including several migratory species, including the painted bunting. Plant species that characterize the salt shrub thicket habitat type include black needlerush, marsh elder, groundseltree and red cedar.

Indigo Park Nature Areas
Conservation Easement

Preserved December 2010

Size:  3.08 acres

Location:  Located within the Indigo Park Community

Habitat Types:  Maritime forest, hummock island, tidal salt marsh and salt shrub thicket

Conservation Value:  In addition to "mainland" habitat, this easement protects four small hummock islands. The trees found on the hummock islands include red cedar, cabbage palm and live oak trees. The tidal salt marsh contains smooth cordgrass, saltmeadow cordgrass, black needlerush and sea ox-eye. In the high marsh / mud flats, glasswort, saltwort and sea-lavender are found. The high marsh, marsh edges and hummock islands provide exceptionally high quality wildlife habitat. Dominate tree species within the maritime forest areas include live oak, loblolly pine, southern magnolia and cabbage palm. The understory vegetation includes yaupon holly, wax myrtle, American beautyberry, coral bean, elephant's foot and groundsel-tree and various grasses and sedges; there are also many vines present, most notably several smilax species.  Bracken fern is the dominate groundcover species found within the maritime forest habitat areas.  This varied habitat area support as host of wildlife species.

Falcon Point Road - Salt Cedar Lane Nature Area
Conservation Easement

Preserved April 2010

Size: 16.02 acres

Location:  The eastern end of Kiawah Island between Falcon Point Road and Salt Cedar Lane

Habitat Types: Tidal salt marsh and salt shrub thicket

Conservation Value:  This property is one of several areas identified as critical bobcat habitat through Bobcat GPS Research. Salt shrub thickets are heavily used by bobcats as den sites and for resting cover. They are also utilized by a myriad of birds, including several migratory species, such as the painted bunting. Plant species that characterize the salt shrub thicket habitat type include black needlerush, marsh elder, groundseltree and red cedar.


Rhett's Bluff Nature Area
Conservation Easement

Preserved September 2010

Size:  2.78 acres

Location:  Rhett's Bluff Road and River Marsh Lane in the Center of the Rhett's Bluff Community

Habitat Types:  Isolated freshwater wetland and maritime forest

Conservation Value:  This easement preserves one of Kiawah's few freshwater wetlands.  In addition, the property is a haven for wildlife and has been identified through Bobcat GPS Research as critical bobcat habitat. In 2007, a GPS-collared female bobcat and kittens were seen several times on the property, suggesting that the property was perhaps being used as a denning area. A paved path and boardwalk bisect the property offering Island owners and guests an interesting walk through the middle of this unique freshwater wetland habitat and adjacent maritime forest.