SCWA Partners with Delta, UGA and USFWS on Ring-necked Research

SCWA Partners with Delta, UGA and USFWS on Ring-necked Research

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association has partnered with the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, the University of Georgia and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study the annual movements of ring-necked ducks that winter in South Carolina. The research project is part of a larger study that is also focusing on ring-necked ducks that winter in South Georgia.

Lead investigator for the project, Mark McConnell, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Outreach at the University of Georgia, and graduate student Tori Mezebish have been working on this research project since the 2016-2017 waterfowl hunting season. As evidenced by their hard work last week, McConnell reiterated, “We have put a tremendous amount of time, effort and resources into getting these birds captured and marked. It’s a fun project and could not be done without the incredible skill and dedication of our wildlife veterinarians.”

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Ring-necks are very important to South Carolina duck hunters. They consistently rank number 2, 3 or 4 in the annual South Carolina waterfowl harvest. From November 27-30th, 28 hens and 2 drakes were collected from the SCWA Black Dog duck pond and surgically implanted with satellite or GPS transmitters , 10 of which were funded by generous SCWA members. These radios will last for up to 10 months and will provide information on the movements and habitat preferences of ring-necked ducks throughout their wintering, spring migration, breeding and brood rearing portions of their annual life cycle.

McConnell relayed, “This research is both novel and important. We are the first ones to ever put an internal transmitter into a ring-necked duck. It is also important because we know very little about ring-necked duck’s wintering habitat use and migration strategies. We are hoping to learn what types of wetlands they prefer during winter. Migration is a crucial time of year for migratory waterfowl, so understanding their routes and stopover sites can inform managers on how to better provide quality waterfowl habitat during migration.”

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An intensive 22-25 hours of surgery were performed by Michele Goodman, Director of Veterinary Services for the Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania. When asked about what this opportunity means to her, Goodman communicated, “I enjoy participating in these projects for a number of reasons – implanting satellite transmitters is one of the most reliable ways to get good information on waterfowl movement and behavior which can ultimately lead to more targeted conservation initiatives. These projects are also a huge collaboration – I like working with graduate students, biologists and conservation organizations. As someone who spends most of my time working with captive animals, it’s also a tremendous privilege to get to work with wild birds.”

You will be able to track the movements of the ring-necks by visiting the Delta Waterfowl Foundation website here, and we hope to put the weekly updated movements on the SCWA website as well.

If you harvest one of these ducks, please save the duck and contact SCWA at (803) 452-6001 or USFWS at (803) 478-2217. The duck will be banded and have a short wire antenna sticking out of its back. Researchers would like to examine the body condition of any birds that are harvested by hunters to analyze if the radios have any negative effect on the body condition of the duck.

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Camp Woodie breaks ground and attendance record

Camp Woodie breaks ground and attendance record

Camp Woodie found great success this summer, hosting 1,125 campers throughout the 11-week duration of summer camp. This new record attendance signifies development and growth that Camp Woodie’s staff and supporters worked so hard for this summer. Over 260 campers received their hunter’s safety certification, while 102 campers completed the boater’s education course.

Camp Woodie staff looked to Camp Director, Keller Kissam, Jr. and Assistant Camp Director, Cortlyn Maner for leadership this summer. Keller managed the staff through another strong summer with the help of his dynamic assistant director. Although this was her first year in an administrative role at camp, Cortlyn has been a vital part of Camp Woodie since her first year as a camper at 8 years old.

Through her 14 summers spent at Camp Woodie as a camper, CIT, counselor, photographer and now assistant director, Cortlyn has developed a connection with camp that few can match. Cortlyn had this to say about the summer of 2018:

“Camp has always had a special place in my heart, and this summer, I was able to see it from a different perspective. As the assistant director, I was able to share my passion with campers and staff, while growing as a person. I’m happy to have been fortunate enough to be a part of another record-breaking summer, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

The Wildlife Education Center will boast a brand new entrance next summer, as well as a new lodging building, which will allow Camp Woodie to accommodate 60 more campers than summers past. Camp staff members are working hard to develop new, captivating activities for next summer to keep Camp Woodie’s quality at an all-time high.

Camp Director, Keller Kissam stated, “With all of this new growth, we have the potential to expand our current activities, as well as add new ones. Each time campers return to camp, they should have a new experience compared to the previous year. We’re excited for so many opportunities to grow, and we hope that next year will be even better than before. We couldn’t do it without everyone who has contributed to camp in years past.”

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SCWA’s “Camp Leopold” receives grant from Dominion Energy

SCWA’s “Camp Leopold” receives grant from Dominion Energy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2018

Contact: Ed Paul
803.600.8977
epaul@scwa.org

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s “Camp Leopold” receives grant from Dominion Energy

Funding will provide an experiential learning field trip opportunity for students in Camp Leopold’s widely diverse ecosystem.

 

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s environmental education school-year program, “Camp Leopold,” has received a $10,000 Environmental Education and Stewardship Grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, the non-profit arm of Dominion Energy.

The Camp Leopold environmental education camp program will host an additional 250 South Carolina students as they experience the environmental education field trip of a lifetime, thanks to Dominion Energy. The camp, managed by the South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA), sits adjacent to beautiful Lake Marion near Pinewood, S.C. and consists of diverse wetlands and woodlots that combine to form a 568-acre outdoor classroom.

The grant from the Dominion Energy Foundation will provide 250 Camp Leopold scholarships to South Carolina public school students in grades 3-7 within Dominion Energy’s natural gas service areas. Starting in Fall 2018, the schools awarded scholarships will attend a 1-day session at Camp Leopold, where students will be introduced to a hands-on outdoor curriculum focused on South Carolina’s ecosystems, conservation, sustainability, and STEM education. The Camp Leopold program reconnects youth to the land, while helping to educate the future generations in conservation.

“Dominion Energy is thrilled to be able to support organizations like South Carolina Waterfowl Association in the important work they do for students and schools,” said Kristen Beckham, external affairs representative for Dominion Energy. “It’s especially meaningful to provide funding for transformational field trips, so more students can benefit from environmental education and hands-on science activities. These experiences, we believe, will help them learn the importance of protecting our state’s environment and natural resources.”

The Dominion/Camp Leopold Scholarship Fund will provide a 1-day field trip for up to 50 students. These scholarships are on a first come/first served basis. If a school is too far from the Camp Leopold facility for a 1-day session, a multiple day program will be available with partial funding through the partnership.

For more information on Camp Leopold or to book a field trip through the Dominion/Camp Leopold Scholarship Fund, contact Joe Gonzalez, Camp Leopold Director, via email at joe@scwa.org, or visit the program’s website at www.wildlifeedcenter.org.

About the South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s – Camp Leopold School-year program

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) exists to enhance and perpetuate South Carolina’s wildlife heritage through education and waterfowl habitat conservation. SCWA was founded in 1986 by Executive Director and waterfowl biologist, David Wielicki. SCWA is a nonprofit organization recognized under section 501-C3 of the internal revenue service code.

The SCWA Wildlife Education Center is a project of SCWA established in 1994. The Wildlife Education Center (WEC) operates three main programs. These include Camp Leopold, Camp Woodie and the WEC Wildlife Heritage Events. The mission of Camp Leopold is “To create an ecologically literate citizenry by heightening student awareness of the natural world, fine-tuning the skills necessary to read the landscape, and instilling a love, respect, and admiration for the land so that each individual might develop a personal land ethic.” Camp Leopold is named after Aldo Leopold, who is recognized as the father of wildlife conservation and management. Camp activities are designed to provide a creative outdoor classroom focusing on wildlife, wetland and upland ecology. The Camp Leopold curriculum is uniquely designed to help students and teachers achieve academic standards in science, reading and math through hands on outdoor education. The curriculum draws on aspects of the Leopold Education Project, Project Wet and Project Wild.

About Dominion Energy

Nearly 6 million customers in 19 states heat and cool their homes and power their businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D). The company’s record of reliable, safe and clean energy regularly places it among American’s most-admired utilities. One of the nation’s leading operators of solar energy, Dominion Energy is one of just three companies to have reduced carbon intensity by more than 40 percent since 2000.

Dominion Energy’s Environmental Education and Stewardship grants support a variety of initiatives that benefit schools, organizations and communities across the country. In 2018, Dominion Energy is awarding $1 million in grants to 129 organizations in 12 states working to improve natural spaces or encourage environmental stewardship. Since 2003, Dominion has donated nearly $32 million to a wide variety of environmental projects across its footprint. To learn more, please visit www.dominionenergy.com, Facebook or Twitter. To learn more about Dominion Energy’s growing presence in S.C., visit www.brighterenergyfuture.com.

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SCWA celebrates Boeing Corporation’s 5 years of Camp Leopold scholarship support

SCWA celebrates Boeing Corporation’s 5 years of Camp Leopold scholarship support

Since the year 2013, Boeing South Carolina has been a vital part of the success of SCWA’s Camp Leopold. The school year natural resource education program began in 2012 with the mission “to create an ecologically literate citizenry by heightening student awareness of the natural world, fine-tuning the skills necessary to read the landscape, and instilling a love, respect, and admiration for the land so that each individual might develop a personal land ethic.” Corporations like Boeing are generous enough to provide the thousands of scholarships each school year that give South Carolina students the opportunity to attend Camp Leopold. Without corporate sponsors like Boeing, the large majority of Camp Leopold attendees would not be able to participate in the program.

From 2013-2017, Boeing has given Camp Leopold $150,000 to be distributed as scholarships to 3rd-7th grade students from Title One schools along the SC I-95 corridor. Adding in their contribution for 2018, Boeing has gifted $180,000 to Camp Leopold over the course of the last five years, a total of 4,500 scholarships. Camp Leopold is proud to be a partner of an innovative corporation that is dedicated to not only building a better tomorrow for the environment, but the next generation as well.

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Alice Drive Elementary

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Walker Gamble Elementary

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R.E. Davis Elementary

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Manning Primary

Camp Leopold 2017-2018: A school year in review

Camp Leopold 2017-2018: A school year in review

We’re so thankful for the amazing season we had at Camp Leopold this school year! Students from all over the state came to visit us and learn from our awesome instructors through a variety of different activities. None of this would have been possible without our generous corporate sponsors and South Carolina Waterfowl Association chapters throughout the state.

3,218 students from 58 different schools were touched by the Camp Leopold program from August 2017 through May of 2018. Thanks to corporate sponsors and SCWA chapters, $109,180 was distributed throughout the state as scholarships for students to attend Camp Leopold.

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Camp Leopold added some new activities to the list this school year, including “Plaster Track Casting,” “Water Quality Testing” and “Birding.” In the works for next year is a new class called “Forest Ecology,” where students will learn to assess the age of existing timber stands. Trekking through new and old growth forests, students will also learn about the key management techniques that allow Camp Leopold to efficiently manage their forests to provide habitat for thousands of species of plants and animals.

To fulfill SCWA’s vision to “provide opportunities for all South Carolina youth to participate in hands-on natural resources conservation experiences,” construction on a new lodging building at the SCWA Wildlife Education Center will begin in July. This new lodging building will expand Camp Leopold’s daily capacity from 100 campers to 150 campers. Along with new lodging, Camp Leopold will also be able to utilize a newly purchased 127-acre tract of land that has been added to the Wildlife Education Center that will include a boardwalk nature trail.

Camp Leopold Director, Joe Gonzalez, is eager to continue improvements and expand the Camp Leopold program. Gonzalez relayed, “Many key developments to both our infrastructure and curriculum have made Camp Leopold an invaluable experience for students over the past school year. As we continue to better our facilities and our program, it’s exciting to envision the opportunities that our campers will have as we continue to grow.”

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You can learn more about the camp program under the “Camp Leopold” tab of wildlifeedcenter.org. If you are interested in booking a field trip to Camp Leopold, please reach out to Camp Leopold Director, Joe Gonzalez at joe@scwa.org. If you or your company would like to provide scholarships for students to attend Camp Leopold, please contact Director of Education Programs Sales and Marketing, Ed Paul at epaul@scwa.org. We hope to see you next year!

 

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SCWA Boyd Camp to open in September

SCWA Boyd Camp to open in September

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association has received a grant from the Boyd Foundation to purchase 127 acres adjacent to the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. The Boyd Foundation grant also provided funding to develop 60 acres of waterfowl habitat, nature trails and to enhance wildlife habitat on the balance of the 127-acre property. The grant also provided funding for a new parent/child primitive camping area that will be used throughout the year and will be called “SCWA Boyd Camp.” The primitive camp site will feature a cook shed, 5 rustic 4-person cabins, fire pits and game cleaning stations.

The addition of the SCWA Boyd Camp brings the total acreage of the SCWA Wildlife Education Center to 568 acres. In addition to natural resource conservation education programs that operate through the year, the SCWA Boyd Camp presents the unique opportunity for a parent to hunt alongside his/her senior camper. A hunt at Boyd Camp will count as the Camp Woodie senior camper’s chosen youth hunt that is offered with their senior Camp Woodie registration. Camp Woodie will offer 8 duck hunts at Boyd Camp with 12 parents and 12 children per hunt, as well as 5 deer hunts at Boyd Camp with 6 parents and 6 children per hunt. Each type of hunt will cost $125 per parent/child group (1 parent, 1 child). Hunters will be responsible for bringing their own food for the duration of their stay, as well as sleeping bags and pillows for the night before the hunt. For duck hunts, the 20 lodging spots will be first come first served.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is excited to present this opportunity to Camp Woodie parents and campers. Parents will now have the ability to choose a Boyd Camp hunt on their Camp Woodie account online, just like the regular youth hunts. However, no one may sign up for a youth hunt until they have already registered and paid for a senior week of camp at Camp Woodie.

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Santee Cooper Lakes Giant Cutgrass Control Project

Santee Cooper Lakes Giant Cutgrass Control Project

In 2016, the South Carolina Waterfowl Association expressed an interest in controlling the amount of giant cutgrass on the Santee Cooper Lakes (Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion) in collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), Santee Cooper and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The 4,300 acres of dense giant cutgrass stands around the two lakes proved troublesome for those who tried to access the lakes for boating, waterfowl hunting, and fishing. These stands of cutgrass also choked out valuable fish spawning areas and made it difficult for native plants that are beneficial to waterfowl to flourish. The end result was a significant reduction of quality fish and waterfowl habitat on the Santee Cooper Lakes system. The 3,300 acres around Lake Marion and 1,000 acres around Lake Moultrie desperately needed to be scaled down and maintained to allow the growth of beneficial vegetation. SCWA was pleased to donate $10,000 toward the project with confidence that the plan would enhance habitat and the experiences for waterfowlers and fishermen.

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These photo are examples of targeted areas for the project that were inundated with cutgrass. Credit: Casey Moorer

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Chris Page with SCDNR’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program relayed, “The major goals of the project are to improve wildlife habitats for hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities within the Santee Cooper lakes system, as well as overall lake access.” Santee Cooper staff used GIS software to map out the problem areas in order to effectively execute the aerial operation, with treatment being conducted by Summit helicopters. All aerial applications of Environmental Protection Agency approved herbicides were done with a spray rate of 20 gallons per acre to ensure adequate coverage and efficacy. For the year of 2016, Santee Cooper sprayed 308 acres of cutgrass, 125 of which were in the Santee National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). SCDNR treated 183 acres of cutgrass, bringing the 2016 total to 491 acres of treated cutgrass. In addition to spray treatments, the Refuge also stressed the cutgrass further by lowering water levels within impounded areas (Savannah Branch) right after the aerial spray for two-three months, and then followed up with a prescribed burn in February 2017. The areas were immediately re-flooded after the prescribed burn and kept high throughout the summer.  Those three treatments combined (spraying, altering hydrology, and prescribed burning), provided excellent waterfowl habitat restoration at the Refuge.

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Taken during the 2017 follow up survey, this photo shows that the cutgrass has been drastically thinned, allowing submersed and floating leaf plants to occupy the area, as well as allowing access into the area. Photo Credit: Casey Moorer

In 2017, Santee Cooper revisited the sites to assess any needs for treatment of regrowth. With the help of SCDNR’s wildlife management area maps, Santee Cooper repeated the mapping process. Santee Cooper treated 685 acres of cutgrass in 2017 (including the Refuge), while SCDNR treated 300 acres. In total, the two organizations treated 985 acres of cutgrass around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion in 2017. Through the partnership between SCWA, Santee Cooper, SCDNR, and USFWS, a total of 1,476 acres of giant cutgrass has been treated over the past two years.

SanteeCooperCutgrass2016-2017We look forward to monitoring the success of the project this coming summer. It will take a couple of growing seasons to see the full impact of the project on fish and wildlife habitat, since it takes some time for the dense giant cutgrass stands to decompose. Once this occurs, these stands will open up to improve fish spawning habitat and to allow the growth of more beneficial waterfowl food plants. According to SCWA Executive Director, David Wielicki, “This project should result in the addition of over 1,000 acres of previously inaccessible areas for fisherman and waterfowl hunters to enjoy. It is also important to note that areas will require spraying every 4 to 5 years in order to keep the giant cutgrass from coming back.”