A new, winning Expo team
The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, aka SEWE, will again entertain — and at times even amaze — visitors from far and wide today through Sunday in downtown Charleston.
The 31st annual SEWE will again be a learning experience for those who attend — and it’s projected to draw more than 40,000 people.
Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the BP Foundation, that Expo enlightenment will be enhanced by the creation of the Lowcountry Conservation Initiative, which aims to preserve wildlife habitat in the Lowcountry, rehabilitate injured birds of prey and conduct educational outreach.
The initiative combines those positive missions through an alliance of the Lowcountry Land Open Land Trust, the Avian Conservation Center and SEWE. The land-conservation focus includes increasingly vulnerable areas along the Cooper River, and near the Francis Marion National Forest and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.
BP, which has a chemical plant in Wando, has demonstrated its conservation bona fides locally through wise management of its extensive land holdings along the Cooper River.
At SEWE and beyond, the Lowcountry Conservation Initiative will spread the word about the high stakes of preserving the Lowcountry’s natural treasures — and the opportunities for landowners to strengthen that cause through conservation easements.
Elizabeth Hagood, executive director of the Land Trust, warns: “The threats are even more imminent with the growth pressures that are coming.”
James Elliott, executive director of the Avian Conservation Center in Awendaw (aka The Center for Birds of Prey), said his experience with raptors increases his apprehension about the erosion of habitat.
Though much larger than canaries in coal mines, they can serve the same purpose on early detection of menaces.
Mr. Elliott pointed out that the health of those remarkable creatures, including ospreys, eagles and hawks, “reflects so well the overall health of the ecosystem.”
When elevated levels of lead and mercury are found in dead birds, they reflect similar rises in our soil and water. And some troubling, though not yet definitive, statistics in our area show a climb in prescription drugs, including anti-depressants and Viagra, in dead raptors.
Mr. Elliott stressed the initiative’s broad “educational aspect — everything from students to landowners.”
The Lowcountry Conservation Initiative will teach those lessons in its Expo tent on Marion Square through Sunday.
It will also feature awe-inducing flight demonstrations by those birds of prey (11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today; 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday).
After SEWE, the initiative’s educational outreach will continue in coastal South Carolina schools.
Again, that’s thanks to the BP Foundation which Mrs. Hagood hailed for helping to bolster “the perception of how economic growth and land preservation go hand in hand.”
So enjoy the Expo — and learn something along the entertaining way.