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President's Letter

Dear Coastal Master Naturalists,
The breaking news of the moment is: Dr. James Blake has been named as the permanent State Coordinator for the South Carolina Master Naturalist Program.
This is wonderful news!  Since he began as the Interim Coordinator 13 months ago, the South Carolina Master Naturalist Program has gained an enormous amount of momentum, infusing the associations around the state with new energy and purpose. 
Under his continued direction I can envision an active, cooperative network of associations all working towards the goal of educating our state’s residents about the wonderful world they inhabit and aiding our South Carolina professionals with citizen science support as they work to better understand and preserve/conserve the incredible diversity of our state’s natural resources.

There have been many wonderful educational opportunities offered here in the Lowcountry and throughout the state in the past few months with many more coming up.  The last one I attended was on Tuesday, July 9th; Skull Identification offered by the Midlands Association and taught by Master Naturalist Chris Baldwin. 

Looking forward to my final five months as president with excitement and encouragement.  Please feel free to contact me with suggestions or concerns.
Judith Kramer


Francis Beidler Forest Statewide Workshop

CMNA offered its first Statewide Master Naturalist training program, which was held at Francis Beidler Forest on June 23, led by Mark Musselman, who is Audubon’s Land Manager at Beidler Forest.  First priority for this program was offered to out-of-area Master Naturalist graduates.  Twenty (20) Master Naturalists from the Midlands and the Upstate Programs participated, as well as four from the Lowcountry Program.
One of the participants, Jean Arden, who is a Spring 2013 graduate of the Upstate Master Naturalist Program, was interviewed.  She said that she took the Beidler Forest workshop to learn more about the diverse environments in SC and to work toward qualifying for her statewide certification.   She shared some of the discoveries about the wide bio-diversity in Beidler’s woods and swamps.  The class sighted water moccasins, a Barred Owl and Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, and visited a plantation where Long Leaf Pine trees are being seeded.  Once re-established here the native Long Leaf forest will provide excellent habitat for plants and animals.
 “I was particularly amazed by the age of the cypress trees, some over a thousand years old, and also dismayed by the damage that can be inflicted by the wild hogs.”
These workshop participants were indeed fortunate to have Mark Musselman’s expertise as an instructor.  In Jean’s words, “it was an engaging, informative and fascinating learning experience.”  Mark’s knowledge of Beidler Forest is an invaluable asset to all who visit this SC treasure, and we are happy to have him among us as one of our Coastal Master Naturalists.


CMNA Members Named SC Statewide Master Naturalists

Recently two graduates of the Charleston Master Naturalist (Caw Caw) Program have had their names added to a list now numbering six who have earned the designation of “SC Statewide Master Naturalists.”  They are Carl Cole, a 2012 graduate, and Barbara Watson, a 2010 graduate of the Charleston MN Program and a 2011 graduate of the Midlands MN Program.
How did they do their advanced training?  Carl logged in 65.5 hours in the Coastal Zone, 19 hours in the Piedmont, 16 hours in the Blue Ridge, and 9 hours in the Coastal Plain.  Barbara’s advanced training was 53 hours in the Piedmont, 50 hours in the Sandhills, 31 hours in the Coastal Plain, 8 hours in the Coastal Zone, and 4 hours in the Blue Ridge.

Why did they “go for it”?  Both indicated that learning more about ecosystems outside their “home territory” was challenging and fun.  Carl was captivated by an advanced training workshop at Forty Acre Rock in the Piedmont.  Barbara, who resides in the Midlands, enjoyed a workshop on egg-laying horseshoe crabs and migrating red knots along the coast!
Both Barbara and Carl actively volunteer with regional conservation organizations to fulfill their volunteer responsibility as Master Naturalists.  Barbara does monitoring of conservation easements for Congaree Land Trust, and she enjoys walking through the wooded tracts and seeing “wild turkeys, deer, songbirds, hawks, and native plants. Carl is interested in long leaf pine restoration and he also enjoys helping with cypress tree planting and trail and boardwalk maintenance at The Nature Conservancy’s Washoe Reserve.
For more information about the SC Statewide Master Naturalist program visit

Give Native Plants (and Peace) a Chance
Part 1 

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) are both woody twining vines with opposite leaves.  The native Coral honeysuckle’s pink to orange tubular flowers can be seen from March-July while the non-native Japanese honeysuckle’s yellow to white tubular flowers are in bloom April-August.  Both provide nourishment to wildlife from hummingbirds to white tail deer.  Even we can enjoy a sweet drop of nectar by slowly pulling the stigma out of the Japanese honeysuckle flower.

The problem with Japanese honeysuckle is it is very aggressive and can take over an area replacing the native forbs.  It can also girdle out small trees or shade out the forest floor with its 80-foot vines forming dense mats in the tops of trees.  If you have a problem with Japanese Honeysuckle, the safest and most effective method of irradiating Japanese honeysuckle is to cut the main stem at ground level and apply an 8% active ingredient solution of glyphosate (Roundup) by carefully spraying or brushing this solution on the ground side of the stem in order to prevent the chemical from washing into water sources. 

To mix this 8% active ingredient solution, dilute the stronger store-bought concentrations as follows -- for those products available that are composed of 18% glyphosate, dilute by an equal part of water prior to application.  For those products that are 41% glyphosate, dilute by 4 parts water and 1 part glyphosate.  It’s important to handle Roundup with care because it has been implicated in amphibian deformities.

A final word of advice: always use native plants as they are easier to control, drought tolerant once established, and they attract our native bugs which in turn feed our native song birds.  The coral honeysuckle flower is a favorite of our ruby throated hummingbird and the fruit is enjoyed by many song birds.  Just remember in regards to native plants “first year it sleeps, second it creeps, and then it leaps.”

Katie Wean, Coastal Master Naturalist (Spring 2014) and Forest Technician @ USDA Forest Service
Francis Marion National Forest - Huger, SC.


CMNA Spring Island Field Trip

On June 27th, twenty Coastal Master Naturalists and guests went on a field trip to Spring Island, led by Tony Mills, host of “Coastal Kingdom” on SCETV and Education Director at the LowCountry Institute where he is lead instructor for the LowCountry Master Naturalist program.  While Tony obviously knows a great deal about varied habitats and species, it’s clear that he has a passion is for herpetology,  and much of the day was focused on those species and their habitats.
Spring Island is a gated sea island development on Port Royal Sound with property restrictions, including protecting about a third of the island’s 3,000 acres as a nature preserve owned by the Spring Island Trust, which supports the LowCountry Institute.
The trip began with a classroom lecture by Kristen Mattson, who explained the unique hydrology that makes Port Royal Sound and Beaufort Country such a critical habitat.  The Sound has no significant input from freshwater rivers, the only freshwater coming primarily from local rainfall via minor streams.  This is different from other parts of SC's coast that have brackish estuaries formed by rivers flowing into the ocean.  Port Royal Sound and the many sea islands and marshes around it are the result of ancient sea level rise that flooded the lower lying areas, and Beaufort Country contains about half of the salt marsh in South Carolina.  Port Royal Sound receives the highest tides on the U.S. east coast (except for New England), and this unique hydrology means that the waters are unusually saline and the unsilted channels very deep.
We visited several sites on the island to look at prepositioned traps and to examine the wildlife,  with Tony Mills providing expert guidance.  On a salt-water impoundment, we threw cast nets and opened up fish traps to find menhaden, spot croaker, ladyfish, and white shrimp.   On a small fresh water stream, Tony pulled a yellow-bellied slider and a snapping turtle from traps.  Lifting a metal sheet we uncovered a banded water snake.  We stopped at an ephemeral wetland (currently rather dry) that, on wet years, is an important breeding site for local salamanders and visited a rookery with dozens of breeding wood storks.
Returning to the classroom for an exercise in species identification, we examined reptile and amphibian specimens that Tony had prepared.  Teams worked on identification of 16 species, followed by Tony's explaining the identifying characteristics, and adding personal anecdotes from his many years in herpetology research. The class also enjoyed some hands-on time with  three live native snakes:  an Eastern kingsnake, a corn snake, and a yellow rat snake.  A more aggressive kingsnake went back in his transport sack after his presentation.
We departed from the Nature Center, armed with new knowledge about reptiles and amphibians and about a very unique coastal ecosystem.  Our thanks to Tony Mills and his staff at the Lowcountry Institute!!
For a complete species list, please visit

Article written by Carl Cole, Coastal Master Naturalist (Fall 2012) and SC Statewide Master Naturalist. Photos by Linda Shaw, Coastal Master Naturalist (Fall 2102)

Would you would like to share a special or unique experience you have had, either as a MN volunteer or on a MN field trip? If so, please send your write-up to Marian Brailsford, CMNA Vice President and Co-Editor of the CMNA Newsletter and we will feature your experience in an upcoming CMNA Newsletter. Please send your article(s) to editing and approval of copy authority belongs to CMNA) Thank you!


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