Preserved Lands

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 or 843-768-2029 to schedule a visit and obtain a gate pass for the island.

Indigo Park Nature Areas

Indigo Park CE at Kiawah Conservancy

Conservation Easement

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.

Julian S. Limehouse Jr. Marshland

Conservation Easement

Preserved: November 2023

Size: 253.00 Acres

Location: Marshland Located Near Briar’s Creek

Habitat Type: Hummock Island and Salt Marsh Habitat

Conservation Value: This conservation easement adds additional protection to the Kiawah River marshlands. The land holds significant cultural value as it was once a part of Mullet Hall Plantation owned by the Limehouse family. The hummock islands were also used to grow sea island cotton. These lands are now used as habitat for many of our wading birds and marsh species.

Kiawah River Marsh East

Kiawah River Marsh East

Conservation Easement

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 River Marsh West End

Conservation Easement

Preserved: November 2023

Size: 15.29

Location: Marsh adjacent to Inlet Cove Neighborhood

Habitat Type: Tidal Salt Marsh

Conservation Value: This easement preserves the marsh on the far west end of Kiawah Island.

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 Shrub 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

Little Bear Island at Kiawah Conservancy

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 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.

Little Bear Marshland

Conservation Easement

Preserved: November 2023

Size: 140.00 Acres

Location: Marsh Area at the far east end of Kiawah Island.

Habitat Type: Tidal Salt Marsh

Conservation Value: This large area of marshland habitat connects other preserved lands in the area. This property serves a vital role in providing habitat for our marsh species such as the clapper rail, diamondback terrapin, and salt marsh sparrow.

Little Rabbit North

Rabbit North - preserved land

Owned Property

Preserved: March 6, 2018

Size: 1 acre

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.

Maritime Forest Reserve and Nature Trail

Maritime Forest Reserve and Nature Trail at Kiawah Conservancy

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 the 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.

Marsh Island Park

Marsh Island Park at Kiawah Conservancy

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.

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