June 20, 2023

Post & Courier Editorial Staff

Editorial: Welcome protection for pristine coastal habitat

The recent deal to protect the northern end of Pappa’s Island and fold its 140 acres of marsh and high ground into the existing Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is not the biggest conservation victory in South Carolina this year, either in terms of acreage protected or dollars invested. But it marks a vitally important step toward protecting the integrity of one of the state’s most pristine places.

All those involved in protecting this hummock island just across the Intracoastal Waterway from McClellanville deserve thanks, and we encourage them to keep at the larger task of protecting and expanding the western edge of the refuge. As our climate changes and seas continue to rise, this edge eventually could become the heart of this vital coastal habitat, which includes 64,000 acres of ocean interspersed with about 10,000 acres of islands along 22 miles.

The Open Space Institute announced the protection of the last piece of Pappa’s Island — also referred to as Pappy’s Island — this month. The victory was eight years in the making and also involved the Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and Charleston County’s Greenbelt program. All rallied to help protect the island after a development threat emerged there years ago. A new house on one of the last privately held islands within the congressionally authorized refuge boundary would be akin to adding a drive-through restaurant at Charleston’s Four Corners of Law...

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