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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Preserved: July 2011
Size: 4.88 acres
Location: Otter Island Road
Habitat Type: 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.
Preserved: December 2002
Size: 2.09 acres
Location: Located within Horseshoe Creek Marsh near Landfall Way off Seabrook Beach Road
Habitat Type: 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 birdlife 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, raccoons, opossums, and other small animals. The island is used by a variety of species as a sanctuary where animals can live undisturbed by humankind.
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 Type: 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.
Conservation Value: 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
185 Marsh Hawk Lane – 0.14 acres preserved April 2018
182 Bull Thistle Lane – 0.59 acres preserved October 2018
12 Kiawah Island Parkway – 0.23 acres preserved October 2018
10 Kiawah Island Parkway – 0.23 acres preserved December 2018
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.