PALMETTO BLUFF BAT PROJECT REVEALS 13TH LOCAL SPECIES

Every evening, as the Lowcountry sky darkens, you’ll see them swooping and diving, flying pell-mell. Their flight pattern is distinctive, and once you learn to recognize it, you’ll start to see bats everywhere at dusk.

Fourteen species of bats can be found in South Carolina; until recently, only 12 were known to be present in Beaufort County. But there’s a new bat in town. 

FOOTHILLS TRAIL OFFERS GREAT FALL HIKING IN THE UPSTATE

Living in the Lowcountry, where the only thing approximating a hill are berms on a Hilton Head Island golf course or the graceful arch of a bridge, it’s easy to forget that South Carolina has its own small share of the majestic Appalachian Mountains. 

Tucked away in the northwest corner of the state lies the Foothills Trail, a shorter — but no less spectacular — cousin to the more famous Appalachian Trail. The idea for this National Recreational Trail began in the 1960s as an effort to preserve and protect the beauty of the Appalachian foothills. The trail corridor was completed in 1981. 

PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF HILTON HEAD AUDUBON 

Birding is one of America’s favorite leisure pastimes. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 45 million Americans watch birds, whether in our backyards or in a local park or far-flung destination.

The good news is that on Hilton Head Island, you don’t have to go far to enjoy great-looking birds. You just need to step outside. More than 220 bird species have been observed on Hilton Head, and fall migration is a great time to see them.

LOWCOUNTRY CAPTAIN IS HOOKED ON GREAT WHITES

Chip Michalove has always been obsessed with sharks.

Luckily for him, there are plenty of them out in the waters surrounding the Lowcountry.

“When I started out, I thought there were two or three great whites off of our coast,” he said. “But we really have over 1,000.”

NEW RIVER LINEAR TRAIL OFFERS A WALK BACK IN TIME

As Bluffton’s population continues to grow and new developments to change its landscape, it’s easy to feel like the natural beauty and history that define this once-sleepy coastal town are disappearing.

For example, little evidence still remains of Bluffton’s Civil War-era rice plantations or the timber that once stretched from the May River as far as the eye could see. Gone are the days when vital raw materials and finished goods arrived in town via the Seaboard Air Line Railway instead of U.S. 278.

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.