Brian Fiacco seems to live in wilderness. On his 58-acre tree farm back in Wassamassaw Swamp, he roams the forest for deer and turkey, watches the wood duck flock on the beaver ponds, in with heron and woodstork.
He is the future of the South Carolina forest. Or maybe the future is creeping up on him.
Across the swamp from his land the Wassamassaw Plantation subdivision is under construction, 100 homes on 350 acre, one of a number of small developments that have cropped up around him in the five years he has lived in rural Berkeley County. Just to the subdivision's east, as many as 10,000 homes could be built in the 4,000-acre Cane Bay Plantation.
To Cane Bay's south is the 5,000-acre Parks of Berkeley development where 13,500 homes could be built. Businesses and industries are filling in the acres along Interstate 26 at the rim of the two developments, about five miles away. All of it was timber company pineland a decade ago.
That urbanization is the bottom line of the Southern Forest Futures Project management plan recently released by the U.S. Forest Service and state foresters: What to do about more people making more demands on shrinking woodlands.
In the booming Lowcountry forest management already is changing to deal with them. The X factor in the whole equation: You. Partnerships, a lot of them public-private, will be needed to keep the Lowcountry in the pines and hardwood bottoms that are the identity of the place.
Fiacco's forest is one of the family owned operations that now make up two-thirds of the state's 13 million forest acres. How they manage those lands make the difference, too.
Read more in tomorrow's Post and Courier.