HILTON HEAD PUBLIC SERVICE DISTRICT SAYS FUTURE IS SECURE

Water is life, so it’s refreshing to learn that the intrusion of salt water into public utility wells on Hilton Head Island is not a crisis. Thanks to abundant supplies and a half-century of careful planning by the Hilton Head Public Service District and other utilities, officials are confident that local consumers will enjoy high-quality drinking water and waste water treatment for years to come.

Oysters are a familiar sight in the Lowcountry, both on dinner plates and in area waters. But without careful conservation, that won’t always be the case. A local environmental program is hoping to replenish these important natural filters even as local diners slurp more and more of them out of their shells.

Like thousands of other people, Jim Ritterhoff fell in love with almost everything about Hilton Head Island when he first began visiting years ago — the island’s natural beauty, the unhurried way of life and the warmth of the local people he befriended. Being on a Sea Island whose residents cared about protecting the environment was a good fit for Ritterhoff, who leads an organization dedicated to saving one of the planet’s most precious natural resources: coral reefs.  

COALITIONS AIM TO CONVINCE BUSINESSES, CONSUMERS TO SKIP THE STRAW

This summer, two campaigns in Beaufort County have targeted a common enemy: the plastic straw.

And though both local initiatives are focusing on convincing area businesses and residents to voluntarily ditch the straws, the movement to ban the drinking devices and other plastics has gained momentum recently: A Facebook video showing researchers removing a plastic straw from the nostril of a sea turtle in Costa Rica went viral; Seattle recently became the first U.S. city to ban single-use plastic straws and cutlery; and California and Hawaii are contemplating statewide regulations. The national movement is using the hashtag #stopsucking.

SPONSOR A NEST TO HELP SAVE SEA TURTLES

Loggerhead turtles returned to Hilton Head Island when the nesting season began in May. As of mid- June, 79 nests had been laid on the island’s beaches. Many locals and visitors hope for the rare chance to see a female nest on the beach at night and eagerly anticipate the emergence of hatchlings. A few lucky beachgoers will witness the baby turtles’ first crawl into the ocean.

HILTON HEAD, OLDFIELD HONORED FOR GREEN PRACTICES

On March 15, the Town of Hilton Head Island, the Oldfield Community Association and the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association were recognized as the state’s first Audubon International-certified sustainable communities.

VOLUNTEER HELPS CARE FOR PINCKNEY ISLAND, THE REFUGE THAT RAISED HER

A quarter of a million people visit Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge every year. But Alice Boyd remembers a time when visitors to Pinckney Island — the largest of five islands in the 4,053-acre refuge, and the only one open to the public — could be counted in the dozens, the island was accessible only by boat and she and her brother were the only children for miles around.

Once hunted for their blubber, North Atlantic right whales are now among the rarest mammals in the world. Only about 500 of the species exist, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, making them one of the most endangered marine mammals.

Right whales can weigh up to 70 tons and grow up to 60 feet. Commercial whalers christened them “right whales” because they are the “right” whale to hunt: they move slowly, are easy to chase, and carry copious amounts of blubber.

When President Donald Trump’s administration announced in January its five-year plan to open up opportunities for gas and oil drilling in 90 percent of federal waters — including the stretch of ocean off the Lowcountry’s coastline — the uproar on land was swift and strong.

A month later, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to make the state’s opposition to the plan known and to ask that South Carolina be exempted. His sentiment echoed those expressed by U.S. Reps. Mark Sanford and Jim Clyburn, as well as many in the Palmetto State like Hilton Head Island Mayor David Bennett.

THE PURCHASE OF ST. PHILLIPS ISLAND DOUBLES SIZE OF HUNTING ISLAND STATE PARK

A private island a short boat ride away from Hunting Island State Park is the latest addition to South Carolina’s park system. And Lowcountry residents will be able to start exploring it soon.

At the end of December, media mogul Ted Turner sold his private barrier island, St. Phillips, to South Carolina for $5 million.