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.”

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Praiseworthy Pintail Partners

Praiseworthy Pintail Partners

On Saturday, February 3rd, Camp Woodie hosted the 4th annual Pintail Partners hunt at the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. 76 boys and girls of all different ages arrived that day to participate in the largest youth hunt in the nation. The Pintail Partners hunt is a partnership between the South Carolina Waterfowl Association, SCDNR, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited and the Harry Hampton Foundation to provide young people with an outstanding duck hunt on one of several stellar properties with the hope to get these youth involved in waterfowl and wetland conservation.

Hunters and their parents arrived in the middle of the day to take part in a delicious lunch and mingle among other hunters. Each child received a bag from Delta Waterfowl, filled with swag from Ducks Unlimited and Camp Woodie. Additionally, TNT Taxidermy, Winn Tuck Waterfowl, and The Waterfowl Company had displays and representatives on site for youth and parents to peruse before the hunt talk. These young hunters were bursting with excitement to get out to their hunting blind, and their parents were just as thrilled, if not more-so.

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Before all of the hunters, parents and guides dispersed to their blinds, Marvin Davant of the Harry Hampton Foundation relayed an important message to the 76 young hunters: “One day, you’re going to be standing where I’m standing, and it’s going to be your job to keep waterfowl hunting alive. Think about how important this day is for you and how important it might be for somebody else one day.”

Pintail Partners would not be possible without the amazing organizations, land owners, staff members, guides, waterfowl hunting supporters, as well as parents and youth, who come together to make it happen. It truly takes a village.

Thank you so much to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited and the Harry Hampton Foundation for donating the funds and materials to make this hunt successful. Thank you to all of the organizations’ staff members who put forth their time and effort to help the event run efficiently. Thank you to the hunt guides who volunteered to spend their Saturday leading and educating these young hunters. Thank you to Jimmy Lee (Featherhorn Farms), Larry Avins, Lou Tocci (Two Ponds), Charlie Rountree (Hickory Hill), Will & Albert Freeman (The Beach Company), David Wielicki (SCWA), and Joe Blanchard for allowing their properties to be used for this youth hunt.  Thank you to the parents who registered their children for this hunt to get them involved in the outdoors.

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association hopes that, through this hunt and more Pintail Partners hunts to come, we can instill in the next generation a love and appreciation for waterfowl and wetlands conservation, so they can keep it going for generations to come.

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SCWA Yearend Gift Appeal

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Dear SCWA Friend and Supporter,

December 16, 2017 marked the 31st anniversary of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association. We are proud to announce it has been a record-setting year. SCWA wildlife conservation education programs set new records in scholarship funding and camp attendance. The summer program, Camp Woodie, was at full capacity with 1,062 youth, and Camp Leopold, the school-year natural resource conservation camp, hosted over 6,000 campers. Unfortunately, we were forced to turn away over 300 summer campers due to a lack of space. As we look to the near future, the rapid growth of the Camp Leopold school-year program will also outgrow our facilities within two years. In order to pass on the legacy of our outdoor heritage to the next generation, we need to expand.

As a result of the demand for SCWA youth conservation education programs, the SCWA Board of Directors has approved a $10.5 million expansion plan for the SCWA Wildlife Education Center. The first step in the expansion plan is the acquisition of 400 additional acres that will increase the Wildlife Education Center campus to 791 acres. To date, 177 acres of this land has been acquired, thanks to generous donations. The balance of the land is set for acquisition next April. The expansion plan also includes new lodging facilities, education buildings and activity centers that will allow SCWA to increase the Camp Woodie annual attendance to 2,000 youth and allow us to host 1,000 parent/child weekend campers. The expansion plan will enable the Camp Leopold school-year program to grow to a capacity of 25,000 campers.

We need your help to pass on the legacy of our outdoor heritage to the next generation. Scholarship funding is needed to allow needs-based youth to attend camp. We also need your support to help fund our expansion plan.

Your consideration of including SCWA in your yearend giving is greatly appreciated. There are many ways to give. For example, a $480 donation will fund a Camp Woodie scholarship, and a $160 donation will fund a Camp Leopold scholarship. Or you can make a large or small donation to help fund the Wildlife Education Center expansion plan.

You can give online, by clicking on the “Support” tab on scwa.org and choosing one of the categories, or you can mail in your tax-deductible contribution to the South Carolina Waterfowl Association: 9833 Old River Road, Pinewood, SC 29125. Thanks again for your support and Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,

David J. Wielicki,
Executive Director

Reptile Refinement: Leopold staff enhances lesson

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“Their Blood Runs Cold” is a favorite among many lessons that Camp Leopold offers to the schools that attend. Students are given a presentation about reptiles, such as turtles and snakes, and have the opportunity to safely interact with these animals in a hands-on way.

Since there’s always room for improvement, the Camp Leopold staff met with Professor Josh Castleberry, Department Chair for Environmental and Natural Resources, of Central Carolina Technical College yesterday to see how they could cultivate their already popular reptile presentation.

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Castleberry visited Camp Leopold’s sister camp, Camp Woodie, on numerous occasions this past summer as a guest speaker, and the campers loved his sessions. They got to hear about reptiles from a professional and see animals that you don’t normally get an “up close and personal” experience with.

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The Camp Leopold staff learned plenty in their time with Castleberry at the Central Carolina Natural Resource Management Center in Sumter yesterday. Staff members even got to assist in relocating and releasing a copperhead into the forest. Thank you so much to Professor Castleberry for the time spent with our team. Thanks to his professional mentoring, the Camp Leopold staff can put forth an exceptional reptile experience to students from all over the state of South Carolina.

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Waterfowl Associations Band Together

Waterfowl Associations Band Together

This year, South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s Camp Woodie was missing a few veteran staff members. While they were being missed fiercely by the Camp Woodie staff and campers, they were learning and making an impact in Suisun City, California at California Waterfowl’s summer camp at Grizzly Ranch in the Suisun Marsh, which is the largest contiguous brackish marsh remaining on the west coast of the entire continent.

Hannah Cato, Trey Gardner, and Taylor Byars migrated to the West Coast in the month of May to join the summer staff of California Waterfowl. Their mission was to collaborate with CWA’s staff members to share experiences and techniques from SCWA’s summer camp to compare with CWA’s summer camp at Grizzly Ranch. These staff members flew thousands of miles out of their comfort zones to help and be helped by a sister organization with so much to offer.

When asked if California fulfilled her expectations, Taylor Byars said, “It was everything I expected and more! It’s way more beautiful than anyone gives it credit for, and the people within CWA are phenomenal. They’re always so willing to help you get more experience and stick their neck out for you.” Trey Gardner only had kinds words to share about CWA as well: “We have been shown every hospitality and gratitude during our time here, and I feel strongly that both associations would like to continue this give and take relationship so that both are examples for other organizations to emulate…”

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Hannah, Trey, and Taylor explored Mount Diablo on one of their free days.

All three staff members experienced things with California Waterfowl that they had never done before. At Grizzly Ranch, Camp Woodie veterans were introduced to women’s and veteran’s outdoor programs, weekend camps, and unique camp activities, such as duck banding. Hannah Cato especially enjoyed the veteran’s camp: “The Veteran’s Camp was an amazing experience. I got to work with shotgunners from all different levels and give them instruction on their shooting stance & technique. It was a great chance to give back to people who fought for our freedom and the rights we all hold dear. We had a great time!”

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Hannah and Taylor assisted as shooting instructors for the sporting clays course.

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Taylor assisted in the duck banding activity at Grizzly Ranch.

George Oberstadt, CWA’s Heritage Program Supervisor, was one of many who guided Camp Woodie staff members through their summer with California Waterfowl. George reported, “We shared a ton of ideas back and forth throughout the summer. The biggest thing that I have seen with SCWA folks is the ‘ownership’ they have in the Camp Woodie program. These 3 talked extensively about “WE do this, and WE do that” and were dialed in to the program, even while working here with us. The ‘army’ of folks that SCWA has developed with young, experienced staff and shooting instructors is quite impressive.”

Hannah, Trey, and Taylor were thrilled to be able to represent SCWA and come together with CWA. Trey had this to say about the value of their experience in California:

“I think that there was a mutual gain between the two associations – California Waterfowl gained 3 experienced counselors/shooting instructors and valuable advice that will allow them to move forward and grow their programs in an efficient manner. SCWA in return gained and will gain ideas to expand the variety of camp activities as we continue to grow and need new ideas to provide a diverse and unique experience for campers as they return year after year.”

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Trey enjoyed being a shooting instructor for not only shotguns, but archery and rifles as well. 

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Hannah was no stranger to being a shooting instructor. She served as a shooting instructor at Camp Woodie for 6 summers.

SCWA is so grateful for all of the help and hospitality from California Waterfowl and plans to continue to collaborate with our west coast friends in the future to allow both organizations to grow.

SCWA Lancaster Chapter 3rd Annual Frog Gigging Tournament – Event Info

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July 21st – 22nd, 2017

Tournament Venue: Don Deas Farm

3591 Pageland Highway

Lancaster, SC 29720

Contact:   Robbie – (803) 246-5743 or Don – (803) 320-1023


 

The Lancaster Chapter of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association is gearing up for their 3rd Annual Frog Gigging Tournament.

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Check in starts July 21st at 5:30pm through 7:30pm. There is a mandatory team meeting from 7:30pm to 8:00pm. The tournament starts at 8:00pm sharp and weigh-in will be at 8:00am the next morning on July 22nd. You can also preregister at Dixie Food Mart.

Raffles and Prizes include; Coolers, Guns, and Cash.

Entry Fee is $50.00 per two person team.

1st through 3rd place prizes on 20 Heaviest Frogs

Big Frog Cash Pot

GIGS ONLY! No Shooting Frogs!

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Official Rules for the Frog Gig

1) Dates and Times

  1. Registration will begin at 5:30 p.m. and continue to 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening, July 21st, 2017
  2. Teams that have preregistered must be checked in by 7:30 p.m.
  3. A mandatory meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m., the team captain must be present.
  4. Weigh in time will be at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning July 22nd, 2017.

2) Tackle and Equipment

  1. Frogs may be taken with gig or by hand only!
  2. Frogs taken alive and without breaking the skin may be culled in favor of larger frogs.
  3. No firearms allowed!
  4. Frogs will be checked for lead or other fillers to make weight heavier.

3) Location

  1. Teams may take frogs within a 300 mile radius of the tournament weigh-in location.
  2. Teams must have written permission to take frogs from private land.
  3. Teams must possess valid hunting and fishing license as required by state law.

4) Prizes

  1. Biggest frog by weight.
  2. Total weight of 20 frogs.
  3. Total weight of frogs will have 1st through 3rd place prizes.
  4. No cheating! Frogs will be checked for bullet holes and anything illegal to make the frog heavy such as lead, corn, wheat. Stuffing a frog so-to-speak.
  5. SCDNR will be at check-in and team meeting.
  6. Cheating of any kind will not be tolerated.

5) Venue: Don Deas Farm – 3591 Pageland Hwy – Lancaster, S.C. 29720

6) Contacts

Robbie Boone (803) 246-5743

Don Deas (803) 320-1023

Chad Channel (803) 385-8400

Securing the Future – The SCWA Foundation

In our 30th year of conservation success the South Carolina Waterfowl Association (SCWA) Board of Directors has taken a major step toward securing a bright future for SCWA:  the creation of the SCWA Foundation, a new nonprofit entity with the sole purpose of supporting SCWA conservation and education programs.

You might wonder,  why does SCWA need to form a supporting Foundation.  There are two reasons:

The first is liability.  The SCWA Foundation will hold and invest SCWA Endowment assets.  Over the years these assets will grow to a significant number.  The SCWA Endowment committee has set an endowment funding  goal of $10 million dollars and are working hard to achieve this goal.   The formation of the Foundation provides a layer of protection for these endowment funds in the event that SCWA is sued.  The SCWA Board of Directors also recognizes its fiduciary responsibility to protect the assets of SCWA and the funds that donors contribute to the SCWA Endowment.

Second, the SCWA Foundation gives us a structured way to manage permanent gifts.  Donors can restrict their gift for a specific  SCWA program use.  Donors can also decide how much of their gift can be used on an annual basis by SCWA.   The Foundation allows you to give a tax deductible gift for the general support of SCWA or to endow specific programs such as Camp Woodie or Camp Leopold scholarships, wood duck nest box programs, waterfowl habitat development projects, building maintenance or staff positions.

A donor can make two types of gifts to the SCWA Foundation.  These include current gifts and bequests ( planned gifts).  A current gift is given by living donors and a bequest (planned gift) is given after the donor dies.  Gifts can include cash, stock, real estate, art work or personal property.    SCWA has retained Winton Smith who is one of the top estate planning attorneys in the country to help donors with their estate planning at no charge to the donor.  Winton prides himself in providing sound estate planning advice which helps people leave more money to the people they love and the causes they care deeply about.

To kick off the current giving portion of the SCWA Endowment the SCWA Board of Directors has created the Camp Woodie Legacy Society.  Members of the Camp Woodie Legacy Society are the founding members of the SCWA Endowment and pledge to donate a total of $30,000 to the endowment over a period of one to three years.   I am excited to report SCWA is half way toward reaching our goal of $1 million in current gifts.  Seventeen people have joined the Camp Woodie Legacy Society in just 18 months pledging a total of $510,000 to the SCWA Endowment.

For the first three years of the SCWA Foundation all endowment assets will be reinvested to grow the SCWA Endowment according to a Board approved investment policy being implemented by Morgan Stanley.  Starting in 2020 the Foundation will annually donate 3 to 5 percent of the endowment assets to support SCWA conservation and education programs.

If you are interested in making a donation to the SCWA Endowment, please contact David Wielicki, scwadw@ftc-i.net, 803-452-6001 (O), 803-600-8979 (C).  Your consideration of support is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Gary Dietrich

SCWA Endowment Committee Chairman