Kiawah Island is a gated community and as such requires a guest access pass if you are not a property owner or reserved guest of the island. If you are not a property owner or reserved guest and would like to visit one of our preserved areas, please contact Collie Farah (Kiawah Conservancy Land Preservation Specialist) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-768-2029 to schedule a visit and obtain a gate pass for the island.
29 Lemoyne Lane
Preserved: August 2021
Size: 0.68 acres
Location: Southern Side of Cassique
Habitat Type: Maritime Forest, Saltmarsh, Shrub Thicket
Conservation Value: As the Kiawah Conservancy’s first preserved property on Cassique, this property is important to our conservation efforts on Kiawah and its environs because wildlife knows no borders. Many of the birds, insects, and even mammals that call Kiawah home can easily travel to and from Cassique. It also contains critical marshland and shrub thicket habitats which support a variety of wildlife and has some light density forested area with potential for high density.
Bass Creek Hummock Island
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.
Bass Creek Nature Area
Preserved: December 2017
Size: 6.83 acres
Location: Bass Creek
Habitat Type: Tidal salt marsh and salt shrub thicket
Conservation Value: 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.
Preserved: December 2000
Size: 3 acres
Location: Northern banks of the Kiawah River, between Bryans Creek and Chaplin Cre
Habitat Type: Hummock island
Conservation Value: Hummock island provides invaluable habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Palmettos, live oaks and red cedars are the dominant 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.
Briar’s Creek Marsh
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.
Falcon Point Road – Salt Cedar Lane Nature Area
Preserved: April 2010
Size: 16.02 acres
Location: The eastern end of Kiawah Island between Falcon Point Road and Salt Cedar Lane
Habitat Type: 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.
Indigo Park Nature Areas
Preserved: December 2010
Size: 3.08 acres
Location: Located within the Indigo Park Community
Habitat Type: 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.
Kiawah River Marsh East
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 fimbry. Open 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 elder. The 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.
Kiawah West End Marsh
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.
Little Bear Island
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 Type: 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.