Activists concerned about use of chemicals in Sullivan’s Island maritime forest

Lowcountry Beaches

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Sullivan’s Island For All, a group dedicated to preserving the island’s maritime forest, is raising concern about the proposed use of herbicides in the forest.

As the town moves forward with cutting down trees in parts of the forest, herbicides will be painted on tree stumps to prevent new growth.

The group says that “there are no guarantees these toxic chemicals won’t be absorbed into the soil, contaminating wetlands or groundwater.” An additional concern is toxic runoff in the marsh, which the group says would “impact the entire food chain.”

The decision to use the herbicides was made in October of 2020, after the Town Council created an amended plan that scrapped the use of bulldozers to clear the forest, “which would have discharged fill into the wetlands.”

Sullivan’s Island for All president, Karen Byko, said that neither method of deforestation is safe for the island:

“Regardless of whether or not this plan uses chainsaws and poison instead of bulldozers to remove and cut thousands of trees and shrubs, the result is the same: this plan puts the public’s safety at risk by removing… storm surge protection.”

The group hopes that a new pro-conservation Town Council and the Department of Health and Environmental Control will step in and find an alternative resolution.

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