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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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

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.”

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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