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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!





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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.

 





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What’s up with the Rental Kerfuffle?

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I’m getting a lot of calls about this current short term rental discussion, so I thought I’d share as much as I could to give some context and history. This is my personal and professional opinion, and it doesn’t reflect any position of the POA or anyone else, although I have tried to be as accurate as possible.

What is the history of rentals on Dewees Island? How are they managed? How do they work within the context of our conservation easements and guidelines? I am writing in my capacity as your neighbor, and in terms of what I have learned in the real estate and hospitality industries.  

Two Issues

We are at a current crossroads because of two converging issues: Charleston County’s new ordinance about short term rentals in unincorporated Charleston County and resident concerns about the impact of visitors (both invited and paying) on the ecosystems (human and natural) of the island. As you’ll see from this history, this last one is an ongoing concern, which has been addressed in various ways since 1999.

Quick History

There have been rentals and guest homes on the island since our current governmental system, the Property Owners Association (POA) was put in place in 1992. I went and looked through the developer’s monthly newsletters.

Visitor/renter housing begins in April 1992. The developer describes the Royal House and the island’s “guest house” to be used for marketing. It also describes a rather opulent crab feast for realtors to visit the island.

By July 1995, The developer is making connections with Area Tourism outfitters to show them the island. This encourages those tourism operators to send their clients to the island for a great vacation.

By November 1996, the newsletter advertises last minute vacancies at the “Guest House” to give people a “test drive” on the island.

In June 1997, Dewees Island Rentals is formed by the developer, and they put the first house into an island based rental program.

In April of 1998, Huyler House is completed, and the four guest suites are added to the 5 rental homes the developer advertises under the column written by island manager Jim Haley. Jim’s wife Jamie, who now runs Lowcountry Local First, was the hospitality coordinator. Of the 19 finished homes on the island, 5 are available for short term rentals, representing a far higher percentage than today.

By August of 1998, Huyler House has opened as an Inn, with sustainability as a buzzword, in a grand opening ceremony with 300 guests. Jack Huyler regaled the group with his tales of growing up on the island.

By summer of 1999, the island manager’s report boasts 8 rental homes in addition to Huyler House, and Jim Haley describes the education and contract that rental guests need to follow.  This means that thinking of the ways renters impact the island and how we educate them has been part of our culture for 20 years.

 This marketing brochure was designed to attract renters and visitors to the island in 1998.

By the year 2000, the island has begun to prepare for transfer from the developer and there is a new employee in charge of rentals. This brochure was printed in 2003, when the new property owners association realized what costs were included in managing a successful rental program, and began using Island Realty as the official sales and rental office.

 

I joined what was then called the Environmental Committee in 2004, and education of renters was a big topic of conversation even then. We published a book, The Visitor’s Guide to Dewees Island, and offered it to people who rent their homes, and several videos about being good stewards.

Eventually, Reggie and I merged his enthusiasm for real estate technology with my interest in education and formed our own Dewees Rentals, focusing exclusively on Dewees, and developing materials for people to learn about the island.  We have more books and an app, and Emily Watson worked with us for the entire 5 years while we built the company.  When we realized the company could economically sustain one family but not two, and and we wanted to focus on Real Estate Sales, Watson Property Management eventually bought our rental company, Dewees Rentals. In Fall of 2017, Dunes Properties acquired Watson Property Management.  

So this historical record demonstrates a twenty-five year old culture supportive of rentals since the inception of the community. In addition, there has been a consistent emphasis on education of paying guests so that they understand our culture before we arrive.

Charleston County

This summer, on July 24, 2018, Charleston County implemented a new short term rental ordinance, which is a response to consumer driven portals for short term rentals. This has caused some confusion around the issue of Dewees.  I have some questions about this:  Are we in fact Unincorporated Charleston County?  We are also officially a PUD, or planned unit development; are Charleston County rules superseded by the master plan of our PUD? Does this limit an individual’s property ownership rights?  Legal discussions are ongoing.

 

Effects of Eliminating Rentals

I have spent a LOT of time on the issues surrounding rentals over the last decade.  My first complete summer on the island was 2008, five years after the POA took over. One of the most frustrating pieces for me was that there were a lot of challenges blamed on renters that really had to do with guests and unaccompanied visitors.  So we built a rental company based on education and love for our island environment.  We greeted folks and pointed them in the right direction and we helped create an intern program so visitors and guests alike would have easy access to information about renting.  We made educational videos and we created an app.

90% of the renters that come to the island are amazing additions to the community: for a week or a weekend, every so often or every year.  They send us holiday cards, follow us on social media, and become our friends.  They are careful with packing and garbage, they clean trash off the beach and volunteer for turtle team opportunities.  And eventually, they become our neighbors by buying on the island.  Depending on how you count a new owner, between 45 and 65 percent were renters first.

If we remove 65% of buyers from the pool, our niche market takes a pretty big hit.  Even as we’ve contemplated this issue in the last couple of weeks, I have seen five buyers either ice their plans or walk away completely.  Given that we see five or six sales a year, and it might take me 100 inquiries and sixty tours to get those buyers to commit to our niche market, that’s almost a years worth of sales on ice.  In addition, more inventory leads to lower prices, and I have been contacted by several owners to put their homes on the market.  We are not known for our liquid market, and my broker Randy Walker cautions people to be prepared for any of the big D’s that can change circumstances and require someone to need to sell their home quickly: Disease, Divorce, Disability, Death, Disaster, and Depreciation.  He follows up with:

 

A property is an asset whose value is determined by the lessons we learned in Econ. 101: Supply and Demand. 

 
Visitors to the island generate interest which in turn creates demand. As we all understand, Dewees is an island with limited access due to the location. It’s hard enough now to attract buying prospects to a location by boat. With the elimination of the rental income for second homes, and fewer visitors to experience the island, demand for property will absolutely decrease. And how many home owners and vacant lot owners will choose to sell asap, when their income option disappears? Too many, too quickly. 
 
Vacation guests have always been the lifeblood of demand for second homes on all south Atlantic islands. Visitors keep the island economically vibrant and desirable. They allow second homeowners to maintain their properties.  Eliminate short term rentals and the supply of homes and vacant lots for sale will skyrocket, with even fewer visitors to provide the demand needed to shore up values. Picture an overabundant supply and even more limited demand.  Do the math and everyone loses.

So it seems that we all should be on the same page, allowing residents the right to use their property as economic circumstances dictate and within the paradigms that have been in place for the last 25 years. We certainly should be able to present that perspective to Charleston County. And there are surely ways to manage the system so it provides a quality experience for the guests and a comfortable way of life for full and part-time residents.

How do we Mitigate the Impact of Increased Use?

This is the second, perhaps even more essential question. And it’s one the community is grappling with in many ways: the Residential Use Study Group met for a few months this winter and made a bunch of recommendations. If you are an owner, these were sent to you. Dewees does not have an unlimited capacity for rentals. We are not a resort. If we have four or five large rental homes that switch on weekends, the ferry would be hard pressed to accommodate more on those days. If renters begin to have significantly negative experiences, and supply exceeds demand, the price will drop, making values lower.

What about visitors that don’t respect the island? Sadly, a small number of our guests do not respect the island rules and ethos. Dunes Properties provides extensive education for paying guests, and our app has a lot of information. The RUSG and the recent new guidelines for the ARB mandate extra education efforts.

There are a LOT of other suggestions on the list from the RUSG, and there are a lot of people working on their pieces of the puzzle: I published the new transportation video on the last post here, and Reggie and I developed maps for visitors with all the rules, paid for by dunes properties. The app is getting an update.

The POA has taken a more proactive role in hiring and training our summer hospitality interns this year, and they are excited to start working with guests and visitors. Casey Jenkins has been on the island in advance of her summer term, assisting with spring break traffic, and she says this on her social media:

On this #earthday, I am celebrating the beautiful island I get to call home in a few weeks, Dewees Island. Everyone here is dedicated to sustainability and keeping every inch pristine. You can walk the entire beach and see only footprints in the sand. South Carolina’s nature here is at its wildest and most authentic, as it should be.

Won’t that be a great perspective to share with new visitors to the island!

photo by Casey Jenkins

In addition, we have other groups looking at long range planning and what we are going to be when we grow up. How many lots? Parking? Water and wastewater? Utilities? Ferry? Emergency Services?

You’ll have a chance to weigh in on some of these issues: I believe the POA is sending out a survey to members soon.

One of my favorite parts of this community is the way we come together to find creative solutions to problems and listen to each other. In advance of the 2017 Eclipse, when we planned to have more humans on the island than at any previous point in history, we were able to create an experience that was joyful, seamless and cooperative. Skeptics who were worried about the parking were astounded when community members voluntarily moved their cars.

We volunteer to clean the pool and the roadways after hurricanes, we help our neighbors pack up, we assist when someone is sick, and we lend a hand with the myriad crises that affect our neighbors. We are a community built on respect for the land and each other. We can handle this. We can solve it. We’ve got this.

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New Dewees Island Ferry Video Now Available to Share with Guests

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As part of the Residential Use group, we looked at revising the map (which we talked about here), and providing guests with videos that prepare them for a visit on Dewees.  One video that needed updating was the 2014 Dewees Island ferry transportation video, which did not have the new schedule.  

We are pleased to announce that here is the new video: Catching the Dewees Island Ferry   We are pretty excited about the addition of drone footage from Reggie’s aerial perspective.

It addresses how to find the marina, luggage carts, ferry etiquette, calling for a return ferry, and golf carts. You can share this with your visitors and family by sending this link to them: https://youtu.be/SBx5A-lC5Bs

If you put that link in a gmail, it will automatically attach the video.  We are updating the app, and as soon as the new interface rolls out, we’ll put it in there too!

This one is also old, but still relevant:  How to Pack for Dewees island. It addresses the fact that we have limited garbage and recycling capacity, and why not to bring individual bottles of water.

You can also share that link by copying and pasting this: https://youtu.be/nO3aQb1kSQA

If you’re a homeowner, please consider sharing with your guests. If you are planning to visit this summer, please share with all members of your party. And stay tuned: we’ve got more videos to come.

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Dr. Leslie Sautter’s presentation on our Changing Beach

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Last week at POA weekend, Dr. Leslie Sautter came to Dewees and gave a great presentation on the history of our shoreline, changes to the front beach, and suggestions for ways to address the new inlet into Lake Timicau.  As usual, she was both informative and entertaining.  I tried to add her slides and illustrations into the videos: I recommend starting at the beginning and watching them in order. She comes to us not as a consultant but as an educator providing some framework for us to address with consultants.

She started with some historical data that she gathered using Google Earth. Since 2006, her students have done surveys, but the Google Earth tools allow some different perspectives on the shoreline.  Overflights and drone photography have made even more research possible. This first video begins with a general discussion of shoreline change and coastal processes.

The second video discusses geomorphology, or how the beach changes.  From ebb tidal deltas, to swash bars, to updrift and downdrift, she gives us some geological terms and illustrations of what is happening in Capers Inlet, and how that affects how much sand we have on the beach.

The third video discusses how shoals form, and how that changes the directions that the sand moves on the beach. Sand can build, creating a tombolo effect, which is what happened on Dewees in the 2000’s.

The fourth video looks at the specific changes on Dewees in terms of shoreline and the main channel, including previous breaches from Hurricanes David and Hugo.

In this fifth video, Dr. Sautter looks at the historical changes in Lake Timicau and the ocean shoreline, looking at the natural flow of water in that area.

Here, she looks at the current breach situation, the way it is changing every day, and some possible solutions we might explore going forward.

In the 7th video, Dr. Sautter looks at the current patterns of water in Lake Timicau. She shows us several possibilities for encouraging the water to go further north than the channel currently goes. Kiawah uses a similar “soft solution” for managing their shoreline.

This video concludes Dr. Sautter’s lecture to the Dewees community on March 24, 2019. She continues looking for alternate water areas. Some questions and answers are included. How will ecology change? Can we keep the area impounded? Will sand fences make a difference?





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Dewees Island on the Map

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We’ve been focusing on maps a lot lately. Way back in about 2004, we worked with the Environmental committee and some realtors to create a large, foldable map with street addresses, lots, and information about how to live gently on the island.  These, it turns out, are pretty expensive to reproduce.  In addition, some of the information was out of date, and some of it was hard to read if you were actually looking at the map: the most important information about our conservation culture was hidden on the back.

New Island Map

For a few years, Dewees Real Estate has produced this map:

With the rules on the back of the map.

But it was time for a bit of an overhaul, and we wanted a place where first time visitors could absorb some of our most important cultural guidelines while looking at the map.  So HERE is a quick snapshot of the new map: you can get yours on the ferry or there will be multiples around for you to pick up at POA weekend.  It’s a great way to give your guests a quick overview of the rules.

In addition, this new map has all the street addresses on the back, as well as information about ferry priorities, calling for a return ride, and trash and recycling. It’s a collaborative effort between me and Reggie, the POA, and dunes properties/Charleston Coast Vacations. We’ll have it for you at POA weekend. (And that photo is of a DRAFT… if you’re quick you can spot a few errors.  We’ll have the updated ones available for you this weekend.

New Tourist Map

One of the things I started working on when I began marketing was the fact that Dewees didn’t seem to be featured on local maps.  Over the last few years, we’ve been working hard to change that.  With the help of dunes properties, what used to be an ad on the previous map is now a map of Dewees.  It has a tiny nature center, the Huyler House, The sub tower, the ferry and the streets.  You’ll notice that it also says “private” so that people aren’t tempted to just hop on the ferry.  And there’s a tiny realtor, which makes us laugh but could come in handy.  We’ll have some of these around for pickup on POA weekend, or you can stop in at some local businesses to get a copy.  Dunes has some at the office, and we grabbed these at the Refuge near the Harris Teeter.

Real Estate Map

Dunes properties has a Mount Pleasant/Sullivans/IOP map in their offices which does show Dewees, so anyone looking at property from those offices is exposed to the awesomeness that is Dewees.





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Some new Dewees publications: preorder before POA Meeting

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We have two new books available: we’re really excited about them.  They are being printed at Blurb, which is an on-demand printer, so if you want to preorder some to pick up at the POA meeting and save yourself the shipping, shoot us an email with the number of copies you need.

 

The first one is by Carroll and Jane Savage, with their incredible poem and the history of Dewees Island.  Read at the 25th anniversary celebration, this epic poem chronicles the last 300 years on the island, using anecdotes and historical research from Jim Cochrane’s history book.  They got together with Esther Doyle to set it to current artwork, and this lovely book is the result.

You can order online with the link below, if you aren’t headed to POA weekend.  It’s $15 before shipping.

 

To preview and order a copy to be shipped to you, click here.

Also, I had a great time putting together an annotated tide table for the island. It is in the form of a day planner, and each week has the high and low tides of that week, the sunrise and sunset times, and the plants and animals you’re likely to find that week.

Click here to preview and order for shipping.