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Environmental engineer. Devoted parent. Water provider. Aquatic weed controller. Habitat provider. Wildlife manager. Keystone species.

All of the above phrases describe the many roles that American alligators play on Hilton Head Island. Alligators belong to a group of reptiles known as crocodilians, which also include crocodiles, caimans and gharials. Crocodilians are closely related to dinosaurs, but their closest living relatives are birds.


hat's that? It's a question visiting mothers and fathers are asked constantly by inquisitive children during family beach days. Don't lose cool points by answering, "that's a bird, son." Impress your little one with a name and a quick fact about the critter in question. Here is a look at the 18 most common animals you will see at the beach.

The 7 Magnificent Beaches of Hilton Head IslandFAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE, the sand shore runs 20 miles along the seaside on Hilton Head Island. “The beach,” as we call the flat, surf and tide-washed, pearl-colored, shellstrewn, stream-riddled, shorebird refuge and place of play for people on Hilton Head Island, is not one place. It is a seamless strand of seven beaches stitched together on the outskirts of this foot-shaped isle. Each shoreline is sculpted by distinct natural forces, and significantly altered by human history. Every beach holds its own secrets, including buried treasures of sorts. You can unearth these secrets — but you need to know where to look.


3015-Green-WaterCookieSafe drinking water isn’t just a third-world issue. According to Watercookies Inc., it’s an issue in communities across the U.S. as well. The group, whose mission is to educate young families about clean drinking water, was granted federal nonprofit status in 2013.
Helen Donelan Price launched the organization in 2011 after learning about the surprising lack of clean drinking water in a number of communities.

When you turn onto Old Palmetto Bluff Road, you might think you’ve arrived at your destination. You haven’t. Ahead of you is a three-mile jaunt through rows of Spanish moss-draped trees and only a fleeting glimpse of a house or two before you arrive in The Village.


It’s an ever-growing fraternity in Beaufort County. There was a time when the term “Master Naturalist” was just a concept. Now, it’s almost like a secret handshake among a group of hundreds, a sign that you’re a steward of the land and sea. And that stewardship can all be traced back to an upstart group on Spring Island.

3015-Green-LocalStrandingThey were here centuries before us, but now their numbers are in danger because of us, and their species’ survival depends on us. Thankfully, they have scientists like Amber Kuehn in their corner.
Kuehn, a fourth-generation Bluffton resident and marine biologist, volunteers her time with both the South Carolina Marine Mammal Stranding Network and The Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network. The two networks rely on the hard work of volunteers to collect crucial data and transport marine mammals and sea turtles that are stranded on the beach, either badly injured or already dead.

In communities across the country that are striving to become more sustainable, the discussion revolves around ecosystem services.

Ecosystem services are all the critical services that nature performs, free of charge, that keep earth functioning. Examples of ecosystem services include pollination of plants, production of oxygen, removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the cycling and recycling of nutrients such as nitrogen.

As a kayak excursion leader for Outside Hilton Head, Jean Fruh knows the best way to truly appreciate Hilton Head Island is from the water.
But it’s a vantage point many young residents have never witnessed.
“It’s something I do every day for tourists, but children who live here might have never seen that," Fruh said.

0315-Green-EnvironmentChangeFIRST LIGHT: Every morning, the misty sun ascends in rosy solitude above the eastern horizon of the Atlantic Ocean. Few will see the first rays of sunlight seep across the beach, slow as a sea turtle, and then thread into the low dunes and up the facing tree line and rooflines of Hilton Head Island. Nature awakens with a hush, the grand ritual of daily renewal. There will never be another sunrise, nor the same beach or colored sky, exactly the same as on this day, for the nature of nature is change. This immutable law is a wonder, and yet, the supreme challenge for all. Change, like growing old, is hard to accept and impossible to avoid.