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Returning to Dewees after Dorian with Gratitude

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We are back on the island, and working our way back to normal.  The kids are back in school.  Evacuating isn’t my favorite part of living on an island. For my longwinded tips and thoughts on evacuation, click here. (I decided to write it all out so maybe, if there’s a next time, I’ll remember how to do it.)

As always, our first reaction on returning to Dewees is gratitude.  Gratitude that the storm didn’t wobble 20 miles to the west, and gratitude that by the time it arrived on our shores, the winds were pushing the current and surge away from the mainland and offshore, rather than the 4-7 foot surge we were expecting.  And gratitude for the village of staff, local emergency officials, and neighbors who helped us weather the storm. 

The governor ordered an evacuation at the 6:30 press conference on Sunday night.  By this time, the community was pretty much finished up with the dammit!ball tournament (Thanks Michael and your crew) over on the front beach. Despite king tides which reached almost to Ancient Dunes Boardwalk, there was a pretty good crowd gathered.

Because it was a holiday weekend, the island was pretty crowded.  Everyone began preparing to leave.  On Monday, the last run of the big ferry was at 9:30: It was crowded.

 

Meanwhile, the staff was preparing the community buildings and doing all sorts of things for us that we are probably not aware of.  For instance, did you know that Lori evacuated the animals in the nature center?  At her home, there will be four turtles, a lizard, a fish, and a handful of horseshoe crabs in addition to her family and pets?  I took this photo of her and Cora last year when they were taking all the critters home.

The DUC team also secures the water plant and makes sure we’re ready to get back online quickly.  Meanwhile, the staff puts all the Huyler House porch and pool furniture in, and puts up shutters where necessary:

Fire chief Richie McWethy operates the lull while Nathan secures the shutters.

I always thought that part about the sheriff showing up and telling everyone to get off the island was an urban legend.  Not at all: here is the Charleston County Sheriff’s office arriving (with the Breeze) to discuss evacuation with the island manager and the fire chief:

Once the big ferry was headed to the boatyard to be pulled out and placed safely in dry dock, there were still a lot of people on the island who needed to get off.  The breeze began running continuously (in very high tides) and people who were lined up on the dock all got off the island relatively quickly.  David took some people over on the Scout, and the skiff also carried passengers and gear to the dock.

Catherine was stationed on the dock to help facilitate all the transitions.  While this was a bit of hurry-up situation, everything was pretty calm and friendly~ neighbors looking out for each other, helping with golf cart transportation, offers of assistance from everything to moving cars and carts to places to stay.  We are fortunate to be surrounded by this atmosphere of kind consideration.  

Evacuation is not my favorite activity~ more on that here.   It was fun to catch up with some Dewees friends while in Atlanta, and fun to hear about other impromptu Dewees gatherings.

Because the wifi stayed up, we could even watch the impoundment from our Dewees friends’ house:

 

The island manager kept us informed with regular updates during the storm.  AND got the island opened very quickly on Friday morning.  We arrived just after the island opened on Friday, and were stunned to see how well organized and tended everything was.  The dock (and waterways) were free of all debris:

Compared to previous storms, the waterline was relatively low at the base of the ramp:

The newspaper was still there from the day we evacuated:

And all the shuttle carts were ready to go:

The warning flag was still up, reminding us of what a near miss this was:

The breeze was returned to service on Friday afternoon, and until then the ferry crew made regular runs on the skiff:

It’s strange to see the causeway basically empty:

 

The roads had been basically plowed of the general coverings of pine straw, sticks and branches that covered them. You can see where the staff dragged the debris over to the sides of the road. Several of the water oaks on Old House Lane split and broke, and some pines were down but obviously cleared up already.

The islander was back in service quickly as well: here she is on Saturday coming past the marina:

Over on the beach, there were some big changes:

This is Osprey Walk. We took a bunch of drone photos to show the before and after of some of these locations.

There are lots of broken shells on the beach, and its hard to tell whether some of the erosion is from the storm or from the holiday weekend king tides.

section of boardwalk washed up

The south end of the beach is pretty much the same, but the north end has definitely experienced some significant change:

Looking south from Osprey Walk, where the deep stumps that have been covered for the last few years are now uncovered again.

I am putting together some before/after shots from the drone; stay tuned.

For now I want to conclude the way I began: with gratitude. For all the staff has done and is continuing to do for our community. For the timing and direction of the storm that spared us a direct hit or destructive surge. For the good wishes, texts, emails, and inquiries from friends near and far. For the resiliency of the island and the creatures that call it home. Our hearts go out to those whose lives are forever changed by this storm~ we support the efforts of Water Mission in the Bahamas.

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Prepping for storms

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At the moment, all eyes are on hurricane Dorian. I get asked a lot of questions about hurricanes, and normally when we’re prepping to leave or hunker down, everything is so frantic that I don’t have a chance to write about things. As the track moves a little north, this post may be abbreviated.  We’re a big fan of Channel 2 news, and here’s their latest track:

Dewees has to plan ahead for storms, and we usually evacuate before the other islands do. When we managed rentals, visitors were often confused about why there would be a voluntary evacuation order so early. I had a few minutes to chat with David Dew, the island manager, as we prepared for Florence last year, and he can sum up the entire evacuation timeline with central point: the crane. The ferries are the highway to the island, and essential to protect. In order to protect them in a potentially catastrophic storm, they need to be pulled from the water at the boatyard by a large crane. The crane needs to be scheduled in advance, and once the winds pick up, even in advance of the “real” storm, the crane can no longer safely work the boats. So everything works backwards from that date. We’re not being hysterical; we’re being strategic.

Even if an evacuation isn’t necessary, there are a number of things everyone can do to make their homes more hurricane-ready.

OUTSIDE CLEANUP

Basically, anything on porches or in garages can become a projectile.  Birdfeeders, wicker furniture, porch swings, potted plants, fishing gear, and bicycles need to be stored.  If you don’t pick up all that stuff, you can find yourself with a situation like this:

or this:

It usually takes us an hour or two to get all the stuff inside, and we often roll up the rugs and push everything all together.

SHUTTERS:

Hurricane protection, like fire protection, is an essential part of the design process when you are building a home on the island.  There are a LOT of different options people use on the island.

Bahama Shutters

Bahama Shutters provide shade during the summer months and can be lowered and locked to protect those windows. These are always attached to the windows and can be pulled in and secured from the inside. Before getting new windows, Huyler house had bahama shutters.

Corrugated Shutters

Corrugated shutters come in metal and polycarbonate, and are usually panels that slide into a top track.

The panels are usually stored in a box on the deck, and are the size that one person can slide the top into the track and then secure the bottom with bolts and wing nuts.

One advantage of the polycarbonate is that they let light through, so if it’s a high window you can often leave them up for the whole season.

They can also cover doors:

storm shutter

Rolldown shutters

This house has bahama shutters on the left and rolldown shutters over the large windows.

Rolldown shutters are usually mounted on the outside of the house and can be operated manually from inside or outside the house, depending on the particular setup. Some are electric and some can even be operated remotely.

These rolldowns are operated with a wand, which allows the user to crank the shutters down from inside the house.
these rolldowns are operated with a crank from outside the house, but the last one can be controlled from within the house.

Custom Wood Shutters

Some houses have custom wood shutters that make closing up fairly simple as the shutters are attached to the house and only need closing.

these shutters slide across the windows
these shutters fold in from the outside.
these shutters close over the french doors
Inside view of custom shutters that flip down
These hinged shutters drop down from a panel in the porch ceiling. They have smaller windows in them so you can let light in if you need it.

Fabric Shutters

One different kind of storm protection that is relatively easy to store and lightweight is hurricane fabric. These are panels that get stored inside and mounted over windows and doors.

These are secured with pegs and wing nuts.

you can move them aside when you need to reach the door.

Hurricane proof glass

Homes with hurricane proof glass are easier to close up: lock the windows and doors and head on out. They are more expensive up front though.

Plywood

Plywood is one choice: pros are price; cons are storage and difficulty of installation. This home along the waterway uses plywood to board up:

Go ‘way hurricane cookies

When I first moved to the lowcountry, I was totally addicted to a Post and Courier Column called Good Morning Lowcountry. When they took out the column, I canceled the paper subscription, though we still read it online. But I digress. Island friend Harriet McLeod was the writer of that column, and you can still get copies of her columns in her book Good Morning Lowcountry, Lessons from the South Carolina Swamp. It is totally worth the read Here is an article about the reactions in the P&C newsroom when Harriett delivered the cookies.Last year, Harriett put a set of her famous hurricane cookies into our auction for the Lake Timicau project, but then she was out of town when Florence started bearing down on us. Rich with caramel, chocolate, and a little gris-gris, these cookies have magical properties to ward off storms. The mantle of baking them fell to me, so I threw them together as we got ready to evacuate last year. Well, the first batch of 2019 has been baked, folks, and I am happy to bake the second in the morning. Here’s hoping that storm fizzles on out.

Here’s a shot of me delivering the warm cookies to people securing their homes last year.

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August Summer Programs

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We are winding down the last few weeks of summer, but there’s still great stuff to do.  You can print an entire list of August summer programs here.  You can also download the Dewees App, which will have all of these programs in it.  If you want to use the app through a desktop OR a non-ios device, click here. Sorry for the slight delay in getting them online.

August programs

 

Dewees Island Summer Programs 

August 2019 

Friday August 2

Ancient Dunes Gazebo

8:30 am

Turtle Team 

Debrief and recap

What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for beach games.
Friday August 2

9:00 am

Ancient Dunes Gazebo

Beach Games

Join us as we use search the beach for treasures from the deep and use dip and seine nets to explore the tide pools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here. Wear shoes & clothes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats and plenty of water. Sign up here.
Friday August 2

6:30

Art Show

Sun Moon and Stars

This collective exhibit has many items from owners personal collections as well as some for sale.  Come check out our sun, moon and Stars Art.
Monday 

August 5

9:30

Crabbing Dock

This fun, family friendly program introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock! Register here.
Tuesday 

August 6

9:30

Ferry Dock

Family Nature Program: Mammal Safari What mammals are on the island and what clues do they leave behind?  How can we tell if that’s coyote fur or something else? What do the wildlife cameras show us? Fun for all ages. Register here.

 

Thursday August 8

10:30

Huyler House

Nature Shadow Box Join Casey as you explore Dewees Habitats and make a nature treasure to take home. Register here

 

Friday August 9

Ancient Dunes Gazebo

Turtle Team Meeting and Update

What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for the Intertidal Investigation Program.
Friday August 9

Ancient Dunes Gazebo

Intertidal Investigations Join us as we use search the beach for treasures from the deep and use dip and seine nets to explore the tide pools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here. Wear shoes & clothes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats and plenty of water. Register here.

 

Monday August 12 Crabbing and Insider Tips

Crabbing Dock

This fun, family friendly program introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock! Register here.

 

Tuesday August 13

9:30

Ferry Dock

Family Nature Adventure: Dock Dudes

Learn about mysterious aquatic life forms just under our feet through the use of hand nets and microscopes. Hat and sunscreen recommended. Register here.

 

Thursday August 15

Landings Building

Howling at the Moon

Meet Jared, our coyote intern, for this fascinating presentation on coyote vocalization and what we can learn from them. We’ll start at 8:30 at the landings building. Please reserve your (free) spot.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0b4caaa929a02-howling1

Friday August 16

Ancient Dunes Gazebo 8:30

Turtle Team Debrief and Update

What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for the Intertidal Investigation Program.
Friday August 16

9:00 am

Intertidal Investigations Join us as we use dip and seine nets to explore the tidepools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here.  Wear shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats. Sign up here.

 

Friday August 16 Intern Presentations and Happy Hour Join us at Huyler House as we learn about the summer experiences of Alexa, Hollis, and Jared and celebrate their accomplishments.  Sponsored by the Dewees Island Conservancy and the Environmental Resources Board. Bring your own beverages.





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Video of Nesting and Hatching turtles in record setting year!

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The state of South Carolina is experiencing a record breaking sea turtle nesting season, as every beach sets new high records of nests on their beaches. The season started early, with the first loggerhead nest laid in April, and here on Dewees we got our first nest on May 3, found by Carey Sullivan and her boot camp buddies from Northern Virginia.

Our sea turtle nesting season began with this nest in early may

The Post and Courier described it as running out of room on the beach. last week, Channel 4 news posted about the sea turtle nesting record breaking year in the state. It looks like Georgia and North Carolina are also breaking their all time records. Our previous nest record is 21 nests, from both 2006 and 2016. We are now at nest 27 on Dewees, smashing our all time record of 21, which was tied at 21 in 2016.

There is also a curious uptick this year on the number of day nesting turtles.  On the morning of June 25 we  got a call that there was a turtle nesting on the beach.  In 16 years, I have never seen that (though I followed one around the beach one night hoping she would nest about 10 years ago.) One managed to get to the north end when the turtle was still on the beach. Technically, I was walking the south beach but Reggie was doing it for me by drone.  That aerial perspective shows just how far up the beach she dragged herself.

Interestingly, she stopped to dig a hole, but for some reason, that didn’t work for her and she didn’t nest.

sea turtle nesting attempt

When we got to the beach, the turtle was in the process of finishing laying eggs. The amount of visible effort she put forth was impressive.  She was in very soft sand right against a dead tree.  Each time she dropped an egg,  her entire body arched and relaxed. We live streamed the whole thing, but here is a video with the sea turtle nesting highlights. It is taken with a BIG zoom on my little canon camera: everyone stayed well back out of her way.

Our first nests have begun hatching.

Here is a video of a couple of tiny hatchlings heading to the sea from our first nest.

Once a nest hatches, we will go in 72 hours later to see the hatch success rates. These dates are publicized in the Dewees Turtle Team’s facebook page and on various boards around the island.

There are still opportunities to walk for the turtle team: sign up here:

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July Program Schedule for Dewees Island

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We’ve got a lot going on this summer!  It’s easy to register for programs (none of them cost anything) but it helps the environmental staff plan if you sign up in advance.  July is somehow here already, and we’re headed into the biggest week on the island.  Here is the July Program Schedule. Download the Dewees App on any ios device to keep in touch, OR bookmark this link on your computer, tablet, or phone.

If you’d like to print or download your own copy of the July Program Schedule, click here for the online version.

Dewees Island Summer Programs 

Monday July 1

Crabbing Dock

9:30 am

Crabbing and Insider Tips

July program crabbing

This fun, family friendly program introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock! Register for your free spot here.
Tuesday July 2

8:30 am

Turtle Team 

Debrief and recap

What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for beach games. No sign up necessary.
Tuesday July 2

9:00 am

Beach Games Wear your swimsuit and join us at Ancient Dunes for some fun games.

Sign up here.

Thursday July 4

11:00

 Golf Cart parade July program golf cartWe’ll meet at the fire station at 11:00 and follow the fire truck around the island, finishing up at the Huyler House for an ice cream social.  No sign up necessary.  
Thursday July 4

9:30

Fireworks

July program fireworks

No, we don’t have fireworks here.  But you can see mainland fireworks (Charleston, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, IOP) from the Landings Building porch, the main dock, the ferry, and the rice trunk.  No fireworks or open flames (or sparklers) allowed on Dewees.
Friday July 5

9:30

Bubber and Jan’s Beach fun run and Brunch

July program party

No watches allowed: you’ll need to predict your 1 mile time.  Meet at Needlerush walk at 9:30 (be there early) for the run and then a fun post race brunch at Bubber and Jan’s at lot 13.  Prizes and fun abound. No sign up necessary.

July program race

Friday July 5

5:30 pm

Huyler House

Art Opening

Come check out our new exhibit: Danielle Cather Cohen’s “A Dance with Color.” Her art is already featured in one of Dewees island’s newest homes. 

Light Hors d’oeuvres and Prosecco provided.

Saturday July 6

Mid-afternoon

Sand Art Contest

Come use the natural materials on the beach to build a sand castle/creation.  

You can start whenever you like: Judging is at 5:00.

Monday July 8

July program crabbing

Crabbing and Insider Tips This fun, family friendly program at the crabbing dock introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock! Sign up here.
Tuesday July 9

9:30

That Summer Glow:

Bioluminescence

Learn about what bioluminescence is and how underwater creatures use their “glow”.  Meet at the Landings Building.  Sign up here.
Friday July 12

8:30

Turtle Team 

Meeting and Update

What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for the Intertidal Investigation Program.
Friday July 12 Intertidal Investigations Join us at Ancient Dunes Gazebo as we use search the beach for treasures from the deep and use dip and seine nets to explore the tide pools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here. Wear shoes & clothes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats and plenty of water. Sign up here.
Friday

July 12

Fish Printing

Come to the Huyler House picnic area at 10:00 am and make a fishy design to take home.  Bring your own white t-shirt.
Friday July 12

8:30 pm

Howling at the moon Meet Jared, our coyote intern, at the Landings Building for this fascinating presentation on coyote vocalization and what we can learn from them. We’ll start at 8:30 at the landings building. Please reserve your (free) spot by signing up here.Space limited!
Monday July 15 Crabbing and Insider Tips This fun program at the crabbing dock introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time! Sign up here.
Tuesday July 16

9:30 am

Moon Launch 

Discovery

July program moon launchIt is the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon.  Meet at Huyler House to learn about the moon and this historic event through hands on activities. Sign up here.
Thursday July 18 Shell ID and crafts Meet at 10:30 am at Huyler House to learn how to ID the most common shells found on Dewees Island and make a craft to take home with Hollis & Jamie. Sign up here.
Friday July 19

8:30 am

Turtle Team 

Meeting and Update

What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for the Intertidal Investigation Program.
Friday July 19

8:30

Intertidal Investigations Join us as we use dip and seine nets to explore the tidepools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here.  Wear shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats. Reserve your (free) spot here.
Monday, July 21

9:30

Crabbing and Dewees Insider tips This fun, family friendly program introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock!  Register Here: 
Tuesday, July 23

9:30

Ferry Dock

Family Nature Program: Squirts, Stars, Spiders, and Seaweed

Learn about mysterious aquatic life forms just under our feet through the use of hand nets and microscopes. Hat and sunscreen recommended. Sign up here.

Tuesday, July 23 Guided Canoe Paddle Spend the afternoon paddling Old House Lagoon with the Dewees Conservancy Interns.  Learn about local plants and animals as you view the island from a different perspective.  Basic paddling instruction provided. This is a moderate intensity level paddle due to potential wind speed and temperature; kids must be 10 years or older due to duration of paddle. Space is very limited.  Must RSVP with Lori and receive confirmation to attend. Bring sunscreen, bug spray and plenty of water. To RSVP please call/text 843-568-3994.  
Thursday July 25

10:30 am

Scavenger Hunt This scavenger hunt is going old school.  Meet at Huyler House to learn how to find your way without the use of your smartphone or gps with Alexa, on of our Conservancy turtle interns. Sign up here.
Friday July 26 Turtle Team 

Meeting and Update

What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for the Intertidal Investigation Program.
Friday,  July 26 Intertidal Investigations Join us as we use dip and seine nets to explore the tidepools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here.  Wear shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats.   Sign up here.
Monday, July 29 Crabbing and Insider Tips This fun, family friendly program at the crabbing dock introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock! Sign up Here.
Tuesday July 30 Family Nature Adventures: Water Wonders Become a nature detective as we explore water through hands on activities and experiments. Join us at Ancient Dunes Gazebo.  Register here.
Wednesday, July 31

Ancient Dunes Gazebo

Black Moon Constellations There is a new moon tonight, which makes it perfect for checking out the night sky.  Come learn about planets, stars, constellations and more with Jared, one of our summer interns. Sign up here.





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June Program Schedule

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We have a lot of fun things on the June program schedule: You can use the app to register (new version for IOS; android or laptop go here and bookmark) for these and see what’s happening soon: or you can download or print your own version here.   Our official kickoff is tomorrow morning~ please join us at Ancient Dunes Walk for a beachfront pot luck breakfast at 8:30.

Monday June 3

 

Crabbing Dock

Crabbing and Insider Tips

 

Crabbing Dock

This fun, family friendly program introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock!  Sign up here
Monday June 3

 

9:00

Spectacles of the Night Sky

There is a new moon tonight, which makes it perfect for checking out the night sky.  Come learn about planets, stars, constellations and more with Jared, one of our summer interns. Sign up here.

Tuesday June 4 Critter Feeding at the Nature Center Come check out our residents of the nature center.  Meet Petunia the Burrfish, our five horseshoe crabs, and Squirt.  Help feed the critters while learning what they eat, and watching how they eat.
Friday June 7

 

8:30

Beach Breakfast

 

Turtle Meeting

It’s officially the first day of summer vacation in Charleston County. Let’s kick it off right with an oceanfront pot luck (come anyway if you didn’t bring something).  What’s happening on the turtle team? Where are the nests and how do we protect them? Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing at Ancient Dunes Gazebo.
Friday June 7

 

9:00

Tide Pool Investigation

 

Ancient Dunes

Join us as we use dip and seine nets to explore the tidepools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here.  Wear shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats. Sign up here.
Monday, June 10

 

9:30

Crabbing and Insider Tips

 

Crabbing Dock

This fun, family friendly program introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock! Sign up Here.
Tuesday, June 11

 

9:30

Family Nature Program: Reptiles Join us to learn about many of the reptiles that call the island home.  Sliders and gators and terrapin, oh my! Where do they hide? What do they eat? Which tracks are theirs?  Come get up close and personal with some of our wild and nature center residents. Sign up here.
Friday June 14

 

8:30

Turtle Team Meeting and Update What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for the Intertidal Investigation Program.
Friday June 14 Intertidal Investigations Join us as we use dip and seine nets to explore the tidepools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here.  Wear shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats. Sign up here: 
Friday June 14 Howling at the Moon Meet Jared, our coyote intern, for this fascinating presentation on coyote vocalization and what we can learn from them. We’ll start at 8:30 at the landings buildingSign up here.
Monday June 17 Crabbing and Insider Tips

 

Crabbing Dock

This fun, family friendly program introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock! Register Here: 
Tuesday June 18 Family Nature Adventures: Pollinator Week This week, we’re learning about the pollinators we find on the island: what butterflies, bees, birds, moths, and bats are here and how we can encourage them. Sign up here
Friday June 21 Turtle team Debrief

 

Ancient Dunes Gazebo

june summer activities DeweesWhat’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for the Intertidal Investigation Program.
Friday June 21 Intertidal Investigations June 2018 ProgramsJoin us as we use dip and seine nets to explore the tidepools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here.  Wear shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats. Sign up here: 
Monday June 24 Crabbing and Insider Tips

 

Crabbing Dock

This fun, family friendly program introduces you to tips and tricks for crabbing sustainably, catching bait, and other insider tips to have a great vacation on the island.  Highly recommended for first time guests and repeat visitors, you’ll have a great time learning and crabbing on the dock! Register Here:
Tuesday June 25 Family Nature Adventures: Field sign safari: Mammals

 

Huyler House downstairs

What mammals are on the island and what clues do they leave behind?  How can we tell if that’s coyote fur or something else? What do the wildlife cameras show us? Fun for all ages. Sign up here: 
Friday June 28 Turtle Team Debrief What’s happening on the turtle team?  Where are the nests and how do we protect them?  Which turtles have been seen on our shores and what are the field signs? Join us for our weekly short briefing (Coffee and snacks welcome) at Ancient Dunes Gazebo. Stick around afterwards for the Intertidal Investigation Program.
Friday June 28 Intertidal Investigations Join us as we use dip and seine nets to explore the tidepools and swash zone to find out what creatures live here.  Wear shoes that can get wet, sunscreen, and hats. Sign up here
Friday June 28 Spectacles of the Night Sky:

 

Ancient Dunes Gazebo

There is a new moon tonight, which makes it perfect for checking out the night sky.  Come learn about planets, stars, constellations and more with Jared, one of our summer interns. Sign up here.

 

 

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Loon Rescue Video

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This week, we had one of my favorite bird rescues ever: because it was so successful and the bird even seemed grateful! Casey Jenkins, one of our hospitality interns was walking the beach with me to look for turtle tracks, and we found a loon far above the waterline. 

The bird seemed alert and not critical, so we finished the turtle walk, took the dog home, grabbed a towel to hold it with, and went back to the beach.

According to the Loon Preservation Committee in New Hampshire, 

Adult loons may fly to different lakes to feed, but the adaptations that make loons such efficient divers also make them heavy and slow to take wing. To take off from a lake, loons run along the surface into the wind. The distance needed to gain flight depends on wind speed; on a calm day a loon might run as far as several hundred meters before it gains enough speed to take off. Once in the air, the loon’s relatively small wingspan (130-140 cm) carries it at average speeds of up to 80 miles per hour.

So this poor buddy probably landed on or near our beach and needed a rest. We checked to be sure that the wings didn’t have an obvious injury, and then wrapped it in a towel to hold the wings close so it wouldn’t injure itself during the golf cart ride to the dock. Glasses and gloves help protect us from handling a disgruntled bird.

Jan was on the dock with us, and she was part of our wishing the bird well and watching the pretty morning unfold as the look headed off. It was so exciting to hear the vocalization… we so seldom hear that here. And before heading north, that bird looked back, stretched, and I swear he said thank you!

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Welcome Summer Interns of 2019

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Summer Interns Arrive

Our official summer season kicks off with summer interns arriving on island.  We have five this year, and began training and orientation this week.  We have three different positions all working together.  Our new position is that of a coyote intern.  He will be doing programs and gathering information about coyotes on the island and also working with our wildlife cameras.  Two interns are part of a hospitality partnership with Dunes Properties.  They assist first time guests, provide orientation and educational programs, and serve as a liaison between the rentals and the community.  Our remaining two wildlife interns are part of a partnership with Cape Romain and their sea turtle protection program, and they split their time between here and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Let me introduce you to them:

Casey Jenkins, Hospitality

Casey was born and raised in Little River, SC. She began her life on a salt marsh, so the climate and wildlife of Dewees just feel like home to her. Nature and wildlife were always a passion for her, and she dreamed of being a zookeeper as a child. She’s also interested in sustainability. When she began studying at the University of South Carolina, however, she was an elementary education major. Now, after a bit of soul searching, she is a proud Tourism Management student and wants to pursue tourism careers that help make travel more sustainable for everybody involved. 

Casey still gets excited every time she sees an alligator of dolphin, even if it’s the millionth one she’s seen that day. And she helped me rescue a stranded loon this morning, so she’s already in wildlife mode!

Jamie Ostendarp, Hospitality

Jamie grew up in Charlotte but has spent the last four years studying Hospitality and Tourism management at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. As a child, she grew up visiting the Charleston area with family, but this is her first summer at Dewees. Jamie enjoys swimming in the ocean, playing games on the beach or just sitting down and getting lost in a book! She loves meeting new people so if you see her around, don’t be afraid to say hello!

Jared Crain, Wildlife (Coyotes)

Jared Crain grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, and is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Writing at Berry College. He journeyed from mountains to sea this summer to study the wild coyote population on the island and interpret their interactions with the Dewees ecology. From its history to its happenings to its howls, he looks forward to unearthing bits and pieces that tell of the island’s story. At the end of the summer, he will return to Berry to complete his final semester of college, tracking a career that unifies his passions for writing and the natural world.
Alexa Murray, Wildlife (Turtles)
Alexa just graduated from Virginia tech with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. She was born and raised in Delaware and spent many of her childhood summers on a lake in Canada. She really enjoys working outside and providing people with educational experiences. She is looking forward to doing just that and meeting all the lovely folks who spend their summers on Dewees. In her free time, Alexa likes to hang out on the beach with a book, and on her days off she will be exploring the area. At the end of this summer, she plans on looking for grad schools so she can get her masters and spending time with her dogs. With Hollis, she’ll be traveling up to Cape Romain to work with their turtle program.
Hollis Hatfield, Wildlife (Turtles)
Hollis just graduated from Virginia Tech with a major in wildlife conservation. She is a Raleigh, NC native. During college she spent her free time running on the Va Tech Running Club and, in the winter, you would find her snow skiing.  Two summers ago, she was a shore bird intern at Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro, NC. Last summer she was a sea turtle intern for the US Fish & Wildlife Service on Pea Island Wildlife Refuge on the outer banks of NC. These past experiences led her to finding Dewees Island. In the fall she will go to graduate school in Dublin, Ireland. She is excited about exploring the area and becoming part of the Dewees Island community.

Training

We spent the day with Lori, learning about the expectations of the position, touring the island, and practicing our Crabbing 101 and Dewees Insider Tips program.
Our summer schedule of programs is coming together (more on that soon).  Each week we’ll have a team meeting about what’s happening on the island, give and receive feedback, and share a meal.

Get to Know them:

Island Owners are welcome (encouraged) to sign up to provide lunch for the Monday Meetings: in your house or at Huyler House, either dropping off something or staying.  It doesn’t have to be fancy~ some sandwiches, maybe a drink or some chips… a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter; you get the idea.  Sign up here if you would like to provide lunch.  
We are kicking off the intern season Friday June 7 with a welcome breakfast at Ancient Dunes Gazebo.  Our regular Friday Turtle Team debrief happens then, and we’d love to have you join us!





Restaurant Review

Spend an Afternoon on the Creek at Saltwater Cowboys

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If you’re looking for the perfect lowcountry lunch spot, head on over to Shem Creek to Saltwater Cowboys.  This restaurant is the perfect place to impress out of town friends or hang with the locals. It’s located right on Shem Creek, where boaters, kayakers, and paddleboarders provide an endless parade of entertainment.

We were also delighted to see a dolphin surface right in front of us, wander up the creek, and circle back down.

With live music, cold beer, perfect outdoor bar space and tables, three levels of indoor dining, and an incredible location, the food doesn’t have to be that great to get people over there. But here’s the thing.  The food is also incredible.

photo provided

Over the last several visits, we’ve tried the pork rinds, the bacon pimiento cheese, the trash can nachos, the seafood ceviche, the smoked fish spread, the fried shrimp, and the pulled pork sandwiches.  It’s all good! And the best part is that you’ll feel like you’re on vacation, even if you only have a few hours to feel that way!

trash can nachos: worth it!

If you’re a boater, you can even get to the restaurant right from Dewees Island without getting in your car; you’ll take the waterway to Charleston Harbor, then turn right inside Mount Pleasant.

It’s not a particularly fast ride, but you may see some hilarious things out on the waterway, like this guy skiing behind a personal watercraft.

It’s probably amazing for happy hour or dinner too!  We just tend to go for lunch dates. Dark and Stormy?

photo provided by Saltwater Cowboys

Island friend Brett Yearout is a partner in this venture, and he’s pretty excited to share it with you.  Of the success of the restaurant, he says, “It’s a great combination of location and food, and we were thrilled to see it take off the way it did. Whether it’s the atmosphere, the food, or the drinks that pull you in — Saltwater Cowboys is sure to have you hooked after your first visit. Looking forward to seeing everyone out there for whatever the occasion may be! “





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My Letter

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I’ve been asked for my letter to DNR and the POA Board.  

I am writing as a passionate and committed volunteer for DNR of 16 years; I am permitted by DNR to lead Dewees Island’s turtle team, I was instrumental in applying for Dewees Island’s  WHSRN designation, I drafted the first pass at what became the Lake Timicau Restoration Project, and I have worked for conservation on Dewees since I got here in 2003.  I have been an owner on Dewees Island since then, and a full time resident of that island for the last 8 years. I am also an active advisory board member of SC Audubon and have served on the board of the Lowcountry Biodiversity Institute.

Recently, a small group of Dewees owners met with you to air their concerns about “commercial activity” on the island, and I am concerned that they are focused on their own interests instead of the community at large.  Perhaps they are not aware of all the facts and the history of our Environmental Programs, as well as the economic realities of running our island, and you weren’t presented with a balanced picture of this complex issue.

Real Estate sales support the environmental programs that support our conservation easement.  In 2004, I joined the Dewees Island Environmental Committee.  A former educator, I am passionate about the mission of conservation, and I volunteered to lead summer environmental camps for three years. Our environmental  budget was based on income from a percentage of lot sales. For several years after the departure of the developer, we were selling a few lots a year valued between $300,000 and $1,000,000.  By 2007, some of those lot owners allowed banks to foreclose on them, pushing values down. As the Chair of the Environmental Program board, I became concerned about the lack of sales and began to look at what budget cuts would mean to our valuable staff, who help us keep our commitments to the easement and land plan.  So I rolled up my sleeves, got a real estate license, and worked on marketing the island.

Dewees is a niche market and not easy to sell.  Realtors who work off the island are reluctant to bring clients here: the details of the ferry, getting golf carts and other island logistics are huge disincentives for them to show property.  In addition, only a small percentage of buyers are interested in living this intimately with nature. From 2007 to 2016 we watched undeveloped property values decline by 90%. As people walked away from lots, I saw the values for a marshfront lot go from well over $300,000 to a sale at $8,000.  In addition, the buyer who bought for that low price was unable to pay the carrying costs, which means that the overall budget of the island gets a shortfall for that lot. Foreclosure can take years. The environmental program budget, which would have received a fee of $3750 at a value of $300,000 now receives a fee of $10, and zero in the event of a foreclosure.  We need those fees to maintain our environmental programs. More lots were abandoned in the great recession, and the economic realities of running the island raised costs to owners significantly over the last decade. We have not seen an improvement in those prices until a slight rise recently.

Short term rentals have been part of this community since the first homes were built here.  I have chronicled the history of those policies and communications in this blog post. Owners bought with the specific expectation that they would be able to rent their homes, even though most of them would prefer not to.  In the last few weeks, I have seen six buyers either change their minds completely or put their plans on hold until this is worked out. Other recent owners of homes and lots have asked me to “dump” them on the market. This will further affect prices.

I am certain that cessation of short term rentals will have a catastrophic effect on sales, because most people can’t commit to the level of costs we have on the island without some sort of safety net if their personal situations change.  63% of my buyers over the last five years rented before buying. ALL of my buyers over the last month have walked away or put their plans on hold until this issue is straightened out. This island is my passion, and real estate sales fund our environmental programs so that we can have environmentally sustainable drinking and wastewater treatment, shorebird restoration projects, coyote research projects, motus bird-tracking tower participation, impoundment management, endangered species management, poison free pest control, road management, invasive species management, etc.  

We have systems in place to educate renters and guests. It is also my passion to educate renters (and all visitors, because I believe some owners guests are much harder on the island than renters because they don’t get educational material). Here is a blog post about educational maps that we have paid for so ALL visitors to the island get the top facts.  Here are some educational videos I made for the environmental program:

How to Get to Dewees Island 2008

How to protect our Beach 2008

How to Crab Sustainably 2008

Fishing on Dewees Island

Managing Garbage and Recycling

Living Gently with Alligators 2008

Shorebirds

Chinese Tallow Invasive Species Eradication.2009

Our Residential Use Study group has made additional suggestions and provided materials in advance of this summer season to address gaps discovered last year.

Rental Management companies provide visitor oversight.  They require guests to read and agree to our guidelines before ever arriving on the island.  I provide support for this, putting this book in each rental home so guests understand how to interact with the island.  I developed more videos about packing and transportation. I have helped supervise the intern program that educates guests and visitors, as well as the turtle intern program that provides DNR coverage to Capers Island, Cape Romain, and Dewees.

Transportation 2014

Packing for Dewees Island

Transportation 2019

Alligator Safety and Crabbing 2016

In addition, I have paid for and provided an app to the POA and the rental companies that educates renters long before ever getting to the island.

Predictable Challenges come with Growth.  We have more people on the island than we did in 1998, for sure.  We have sixty-five homes instead of 10. Interestingly, a smaller percentage of them are rentals than in the 1990’s.  My suspicion is that renters get a bad rap: they are an easy, safe target for everyone to blame things on rather than owners or guests~ they become the perfect scapegoat;once they are gone, they can’t defend their position or set the record straight.   We do have challenges associated with our allowed growth.  Our conservation easement provides for 150 homes. Dedicated community members have met to address these issues and are working on future infrastructure needs and what our optimal development model looks like. We need to improve some of our logistics:  Transportation and parking (neither of which is spelled out in our conservation easement) need some immediate attention, and we have committees looking at them.  But none of that is possible without a healthy sales program.

Even a “crowded” day isn’t that crowded. The busiest day ever on Dewees was the day of the total solar eclipse in 2017.  We took some drone photos of the most crowded beach any of us had ever seen. As you can see, the crowds are not overwhelming the ecosystem in any way. Almost all of the homes were full, some with renters and some with owners and their guests.  And yet the crowd looks almost nonexistent compared to other places. This is a manageable group.

It is unfortunate that a vocal minority took their concerns and personal perspectives to you instead of addressing them through our existing channels. Our community and governing body are aware of several issues from last summer and have been taking steps to correct them.  Several of those owners were part of a Residential Use Study Group designed to address concerns from last summer. That group implemented a number of new procedures and recommendations: but it is still too soon to evaluate their efficacy. My suspicion is that these owners are against all people on the island except themselves.  That’s a short-sighted viewpoint that does not take into account all the processes already in place and economic factors affecting our environmental health.

Our Land Plan and Conservation Easements provide for commercial service and support..  “No commercial activity of any nature shall be allowed on Dewees Island; however, minimum service and support activities and related facilities shall be allowed for the common use and enjoyment of those persons residing and/ or staying as guests on the Island such as those for recreation, eating, lodging, storage, maintenance, docking. and supply.”  Management of our own homes and facilities outsourced to a local company as a means of defraying costs would constitute a service and support activity.

Our community has been actively working to address the issue of visitor impacts.  All visitors to the island, paying and non-paying, need education and accountability to our covenants.  But these are all things we can solve in-house, and we have volunteer committees, elected directors, and dedicated staff to put them in place.