June 19, 2019, 11:43 pm
Wetland Management Opportunities and Guidelines for Landowners

Wetlands are an integral part of watersheds in South Carolina, totaling almost 4.6 million acres in area. Wetland loss from human activity has resulted in a quarter loss of wetland acreage since colonial times. Land conversion and urban development are the leading causes of wetland loss in the state. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), oversee protection of the state’s wetlands and aquatic resources. Along with the oversight of federal and state agencies, land management programs and management practices are available to private landowners to assist in the protection of wetland resources. These management practices can be profitable for the landowner if implemented correctly and have the added advantage of providing additional ecological benefits to the state’s aquatic resources.


Upcoming Changes to the Definition of Waters of the U.S.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) was created with the purpose of protecting the biological, chemical and physical properties of the waterways of the United States. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the primary responsibilities of implementing these goals. Through the authority of Section 404 of the CWA, the EPA grants the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) the authorization to oversee the implementation of regulatory policy concerning the deposition of fill material in Waters of the U.S. New guidance has been proposed to clarify the definition of Waters of the U.S. It was developed to help alleviate confusion following two recent Supreme Court cases that have dealt with the scope of regulatory oversight of the EPA and the USACE. The proposed regulation will expand what waters, including wetlands, are considered Waters of the U.S., or jurisdictional waters.


Thinning Southern Pine Stands

Sustainable forest management takes in to account the long-term health of the forest ecosystem while providing present and future generations with environmental, economic, and recreational opportunities. Southern pine stands demand full sunlight to combine with adequate soil nutrients and water for healthy growth. When the individual trees within a stand become crowded the competition for available sunlight, nutrients, and moisture hinder growth. Removal of some of the individuals in the stand is necessary so that the remaining trees may grow and remain healthy. Thinning allows the factors of growth to be reallocated to the remaining individuals in the stand. The benefits of thinning in southern pine stands are well documented to include an increase in stand health, revenue generation, and enhanced wildlife habitat.

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