Sullivan’s Island residents are working to preserve Maritime Forest

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SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Some Sullivan’s Island residents are fighting back against a plan that would cut down part of the Island’s Maritime Forest. Those residents are now putting their frustrations on paper.

Town Council approved the plan to clear vegetation on the island’s 190 acre successional Maritime Forest a while back. Residents have been outspoken ever since that vote and are now putting those frustrations on paper.

2,869 signatures line the petition to stop the chop of the Maritime Forest. Residents say the plan is the exact opposite of the land’s purpose.

“We are pushing back on the forced legal settlement that four members of our town council forced through,” says Susan Middaugh, a longtime island resident.

The land has been held in a trust since 1991 to protect its natural state. Residents say clearing vegetation would be a costly mistake for the island.

“It’s beautiful and full of wildlife and birds but it protects everybody on the island from storm surge and rising water,” says Middaugh.

The plan, approved by town council, would clear almost all vegetation on the island sparing only two tree types. Oak trees is one of the two types being saved.

“We have fifteen different species of sizable trees in this maritime forest, only two are going to be retained,” says Middaugh.

Middaugh has been an island resident since 1978 and a member of Sullivan’s Island 4 All. She says the approved plan failed to include public input and concerns along with failing to all of it’s impacts.

“This settlement is a major problem because for one thing it totally ignores the fact that this is a maritime ecosystem out here,” says Middaugh.

Even more telling for Middaugh, she says the vast majority of island residents are in favor of leaving the forest as it is.

“The whole plan is really designed for maximum cutting of the trees for views for the first-row home owners,” says Middaugh.

And while the current plan will save native oak trees, Middaugh fears what is left behind after the cutting won’t survive.

“It’s all part of nature’s plan and so you cannot come in and say we don’t want any of this, we just want the big oaks,” says Middaugh.

Sullivan’s Island 4 ALL members are asking people to sign the petition on it’s Facebook page and attend next week’s town council meeting where the Army Corps of Engineers and DHEC will be present to discuss their roles in the cutting process.

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