Section 1 south carolina's intriguing landscape (statewide overview) Index Map to Study Sites

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Figure 1-13: Map of Civil War Campaigns in South Carolina

The American Civil War and South Carolina
The American Civil War destroyed South Carolina's plantation dominated world. South Carolina had been the first state to secede from the Union to form, with ten other southern states, the Confederate States of America. Charleston suffered the longest siege of the war and was eventually occupied by the Union Army. An invasion by General Sherman resulted in the destruction of Columbia. On Sherman's march through South Carolina, his 60,079 officers and enlisted men burned houses, hotels, public buildings, churches, and fields leaving columns of smoke and burned out chimneys. The Civil War proved to be an economic, political, and social turning point in South Carolina history.

Legacy of the Civil War
In 1865, South Carolina ranked third in per capita income in the nation, but by 1929 had dropped to last. While the institution of slavery was destroyed, the struggle over the place the freedmen (ex-slaves) would play in South Carolina society had just begun. Reconstruction was another tumultuous era in the state's history. It ended with the overthrow of the state's Republican dominated Reconstruction government in 1877.

Benjamin Tillman and a New Era for South Carolina
A new era of South Carolina history started with the victory of Benjamin Tillman's Farmer's Association in the election of 1890. This association promised more political power to poor whites. In 1895, the newly adopted state constitution disenfranchised black citizens by placing so-called Jim Crow restrictions into the laws of the state. These new laws established official segregation under the banner of "separate but equal," although facilities such as schools and restaurants, and even municipal services, were seldom of equal quality. During this period, railroad construction dramatically increased and textile mills spread throughout the Piedmont and Midlands. In the 1930's, the New Deal placed an emphasis on land conservation and diversification of agriculture. Manufacturing continued to grow and became an increasingly important part of the state's economy. Today South Carolina has a diversified industrial and agricultural base which includes a thriving tourist industry. South Carolina seeks to preserve the best of its past while it prepares to face the 21st century.

The Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina
South Carolina played several important roles during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 1960's. Penn Center, located on St. Helena near Beaufort, served as a frequent meeting site for many famous black leaders. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his staff used the Penn Center facility as a haven where they could plan strategies for the nonviolent Civil Rights movement. The social pressure produced by this movement resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ordered restaurants, hotels, and other businesses to serve all people without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. This was followed by the Civil Rights Act of 1968 ending discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. These new laws received a mixed response from South Carolinians. Some felt the civil rights laws were an unnecessary federal intrusion into issues which should be handled by the states. Others argued that the laws did not go far enough in addressing the evils of racism. But passage of these laws nevertheless started the process of integrating black South Carolinians into many social and governmental institutions which had formerly kept them out.
For example, in the 1960's and 1970's, federal civil rights laws brought significant changes to South Carolina's public education system. It was here that the famous Clarendon County desegregation case originated in 1949. Along with four similar cases, it was consolidated into the historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka school desegregation decision in 1954 which outlawed segregation everywhere in the country. Thurgood Marshall, serving as chief legal council for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, argued the case before the United States Supreme Court. The court held that "in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." In 1969, the court ordered public school districts to desegregate. Initially, South Carolina opposed federally mandated desegregation and the state did experience incidents of violent opposition. Eventually, however, white businessmen, civic, and political leaders worked with leaders in the black community to bring about relatively peaceful desegregation statewide. The landmark enrollment of Harvey Gantt as the first black student at Clemson College in 1963 was the culmination of this process and was typical of the way desegregation was handled throughout the state. As a result of Thurgood Marshall's leadership and understanding of constitutional law, as demonstrated in the 1954 court case, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Marshall the first black associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Figure 1-14: Population Density Map (1990)

Natural Resources, Land Use, and Environmental Concerns

Soils and Land Use
When a soil scientist looks at a soil, he or she is not just considering the near surface, but a series of layers called horizons that can extend six feet or more below the surface. The presence or absence of these horizons and their physical and chemical characteristics are used to classify soils in terms of land use capability, for both agricultural and urban uses. Different environmental conditions can produce very different soils, even from the same original material. The factors most responsible for these differences are:
1. Parent Material - original material which was there before soil formation began (can be mud deposited by a river, sand deposited by the ocean, rock that weathers and breaks down, etc.)

2. Organisms (mostly vegetation, microorganisms)

3. Climate (on both large and small scales).

4. Slope, or landscape position.

5. Time.
The list above is referred to by soil scientists as The Five Factors of Soil Formation, and was first postulated in 1941 by soil scientist extraordinaire Hans Jenny. About 15,000 different soils have been identified in the United States, approximately 300 of which exist in South Carolina. Altering one or more of these factors will result in a different soil profile with different properties, which can make the soils behave quite differently. These factors are not always independent of each other. Landscape position can affect soil organisms and local climate. Both climate and parent material can affect organisms, etc. Jenny’s model of soil formation is still a good way of understanding the variation of soils found across a landscape.

Water Pollution
Water pollution is one of the most pressing ongoing natural resource issues facing South Carolina. The state’s high growth rate, coupled with increasing pressures on rural lands for food and fiber, have elevated these issues to the forefront of priorities set forth by natural resource managers.
Water pollution can be categorized as either "point source" or "non-point source," depending on its origin. The easiest way to explain non-point source pollution is to first describe point source pollution. If a river is being contaminated by waste discharged from a sewage treatment plant, factory or oil refinery, and the contamination can be traced back to a discrete source, such as a discharge pipe or drainage way, this is called point source pollution (because the source of the pollution can be traced back to a single point). On the other hand, when contaminants have no single source, such as exhaust from automobile engines, or water pollution from the over-use of lawn chemicals, it is referred to as non-point source pollution. Point source pollution is generally easier to fix than non-point source. If only one easily identifiable culprit is responsible for contaminating a waterway, steps can usually be taken quickly to reduce or eliminate the problem.

Non-point source pollution is somewhat more difficult to deal with because there are usually many sources, each responsible for relatively small amounts of contamination. For example, the lawn care industry has for many years recommended very high rates of nitrogen fertilizer to homeowners. Much of that fertilizer is not taken up by the grass, but instead leaches through the soil into the groundwater and into streams and rivers. If only a few people did this, the pollution would be dilute enough so that it would not be much of a problem. Since many people do this it is a problem.

In order to do something about non-point source pollution, many individuals must unite to change their practices or habits. To achieve a reduction in air pollution from automobile exhaust, both the auto industry and the oil industry had to alter their products. (Even more difficult is the task of getting individuals to alter their driving habits.) Common causes of non-point source pollution include:

Non-Point Source Pollutant

What is Affected

Gasoline, oils, antifreeze from cars

water, land

car exhaust

air, water

septic system effluent


agricultural chemicals

water, air

eroding soil, sediment


natural gas leaks


refrigerator/air conditioner leaks


lawn chemicals


storage tank deterioration

water, land

By observing land use patterns we can predict the type of non-point source contaminants that might be found in a waterway. When a significant portion of land is used to grow row crops (corn, soybeans, tobacco, etc.) eroded soil, sediments, and agricultural chemicals may become a possible problem. Forest clearcuts also lay soil bare to erosion and create sedimentation problems. In more populated areas, runoff from roads and parking lots can introduce chemicals used by and for automobiles. Residential areas with significant amounts of land dedicated to lawns and gardens, and especially the presence of golf courses, can indicate the possible existence of excess fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in local waterways.

Certain landscape conditions can help reduce the problem of non-point source pollution. The presence of undisturbed vegetated land immediately adjacent to waterways creates a buffer zone that can remove these contaminants from both surface runoff and groundwater. Eroded sediment is also trapped through physical filtration. In addition, when vegetation slows the flow of surface runoff water, the water loses its capacity to hold and carry sediment. The live plants in these buffer zones can also take up excess fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals through their roots. (Trees have been found to do this even better than grass.) Wetland ecosystems have a unique ability to remove certain non-point source pollutants, especially hydrocarbons, due to the active chemical nature of the organic matter that is usually present.

Habitat Alteration
Habitat alteration is the other major ongoing natural resource issue facing South Carolina. Most plant and animal species have evolved as part of ecosystems with little human influence. These species have adapted to a particular niche within the ecosystem, whether it be a mountain cove, a salt marsh, a pine forest, or a Carolina Bay. People, over the past 300 years, have greatly changed much of the natural landscape - parts being altered through management or conversion of use. Some habitats were eliminated altogether. Natural ecosystems have been cleared for farming or put into pine trees, rivers have been dammed, and urbanization has consumed large portions of natural habitat.
Habitat alteration can be defined as the result of both vegetative community change, and the effects of stresses such as pollution and natural disasters. Some plants and animals are very adaptable to habitat change, where others, especially those with a limited range or niche, are very suseptible to changes in their environment. Listed below are several wildlife species whose long term survival is threatened due to habitat alteration.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Adult peregrines are 15 to 17 inches in length, with a wing span of about 40 inches. They are grouped into 19 races or subspecies world wide. The arctic peregrine, which breeds in Greenland and other remote northern locations, migrates along the South Carolina coast in the fall, and its breeding numbers appear stable and perhaps are even increasing without human intervention. Peregrines choose high places with sheer cliffs and prominent ledges as nesting sites. Peregrine falcons completely disappeared east of the Mississippi by the mid 1960's. Reintroduction efforts in the east began in 1974. As of 1993, there are an estimated 97 pairs nesting in the entire eastern half of the country, mostly in the Northeast. South Carolina has one pair that first produced young in 1990, and successfully fledged young each year through 1994.
One of the fastest animals in the world, the peregrine falcon is thought to be capable of diving at speeds ranging from 165 to 200 miles per hour, striking smaller prey like bluejays, towhees, woodpeckers, waterfowl and shorebirds. Females usually lay three to four eggs in late March or early April, and the young are fledged by late May to early June. DDT and related pesticides have contributed to the decline of adults as it has many other top level predatory birds, as a result of their feeding on contaminated prey. The principal effect has been damage to the reproductive system. Peregrines have full protection under the federal and state endangered species act.

Black Bear Ursus americanus
Most of South Carolina’s bears are found in either the mountainous northwestern corner of the state, or in and around Horry County’s 12,000 acre Lewis Ocean Bay Wildlife Management Area. Bears are also occasionally sighted within remote swamps of the Midlands and Coastal Plain. Black bears are omnivores, feeding on insects, tender green vegetation, fleshy berries, and acorns, depending on availability. They eat very little animal matter, although they sometimes scavenge on carrion.

These animals do not become sexually mature until their third year of life. Breeding peaks in late June and July. Cubs are born in late January or February with a gestation period of 7 months. Litters usually consists of 2 or 3 hairless cubs weighing between 6 and 10 ounces. The presence of the black bear adds a wilderness character to our swamps and mountains. Bear habitats are threatened because these animals need an expansive range. Large, undeveloped, un-urbanized land tracts are becoming more rare in a rapidly growing state.

Gopher Tortoise Gopherus polyphemus
The gopher tortoise, or gopher, is a fairly large, land-dwelling turtle. Adults may reach 15 inches in length and weigh more than 10 pounds. They inhabit the Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States from southern South Carolina to western Louisiana to southern Florida. In South Carolina, only Jasper, Aiken, and Hampton counties are known to have gopher tortoises. Available habitat in these areas comprises about 3,000 acres.
Gopher tortoises are associated with the dry sand ridges and Sandhills of the southeastern Coastal Plain. These habitats include longleaf pine/scrub oak, live oak/red oak hammocks, and sand pine/scrub oak/wiregrass flatwoods communities. In South Carolina, longleaf pine, turkey oak, wiregrass, and a variety of other herbaceous plants make up the gopher tortoise’s habitat. Scattered openings in the canopy are important for its sunning activities, nesting, and production of its food. Most of its burrows are in these openings. These habitats depend on another element—fire. Fire management programs are needed to increase the number of ground plants, which are used for food, and to ensure that pines remain the dominant tree species. Fire is an important management tool for these forests.
Some populations of gopher tortoises have been reduced significantly. South Carolina probably has less than 2,000 individuals, so any population decreases are cause for concern. Unfortunately, some declines in habitat quality have occurred through the conversion of cut-over land to pastures and intensive site preparation for pine replanting. Gopher tortoise numbers in our state seem to be decreasing. Changes in man’s use of gopher habitat and fire suppression programs are the major factors responsible for this decrease.

Red Cockaded Woodpecker Picoides borealis
This small black and white bird is about seven inches long, and was originally found in open, mature pinewoods in the south from Virginia through Texas and Oklahoma. Most red-cockadeds now live in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. The species is nonmigratory, and spends most of its life within a few hundred acres around its nesting site. Most of the birds in South Carolina occur in the Francis Marion National Forest, Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, and various other state-owned lands. Red-cockadeds also occur on privately owned quail plantations within the Coastal Plain. There are remnant populations on smaller wooded lots. A rough estimate in 1979 placed the total population between 3,000 and 10,000. Probably 2,000 to 3,000 birds live in South Carolina, according to wildlife biologists. Based on trends in habitat destruction, a gradual decrease in the population is expected.

The Endangered Wildlife Program’s recent survey results reflect a loss of red-cockadeds in 10 of 28 counties previously occupied. However, populations on state and federal lands are becoming stable.

The red-cockaded woodpecker has highly specialized habitat requirements, which account for its endangered status at both the federal level and the state level in all states where it occurs, including South Carolina. Its cavity trees are found only in mature pine forests containing trees greater than about 60 years of age, which are fairly open and free of hardwood understory. Such sites were maintained historically by wildfires and by fires set by Native Americans. At one time, these pine forests covered millions of acres in the southern Coastal Plain. The species has probably always been uncommon in the Piedmont and more mountainous regions of the south because of the absence of these well developed pine forests.
The red cockaded woodpecker is unique because it is the only woodpecker that excavates a cavity in a living tree. Their diet consists of spiders, wood roaches, centipedes and other arthropods. Adults also occasionally feed on wax myrtle, blueberry, poison ivy, corn ear worms and sweet bay berries. The red-cockaded spends much of its waking time excavating a cavity - it may take up to a year or more to do so. Most old pines selected for excavation have fungal heartwood rot, called red heart disease, which probably allows for easier excavation. The red-cockaded also pecks holes around the cavity in the sapwood. The holes are called resin wells. This causes large quantities of sap to coat much of the tree, giving it a candle-like appearance. The sap is thought to aid in deterring predators such as raccoons and rat snakes, which are adept at climbing trees.
Modern forestry practices seldom allow pine stands to reach the age necessary for woodpecker use. Other threats include demographic isolation, clearcutting, and developing of entire colony areas. Even when protected from logging, certain wildlife management practices are still required. Red-cockadeds need open, park-like stand free of hardwood understory. This habitat is best achieved through the use of controlled fires which kill the hardwoods but not the pines. The Francis Marion National Forest in Berkeley and Charleston counties had one of the densest concentrations found anywhere. About 500 colonies of red cockadeds lived there before Hurricane Hugo destroyed many of the mature trees suitable for nesting. Lack of cavity trees has been a limiting factor in survival of this species. Through the installation of artificial cavities, biologists throughout the state have been able to augment populations on state and federal lands.

Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
The bald or American eagle is one of 59 species of eagles in the world. It is the only representative of the group of eagles known as fish or sea eagles found in the New World and is the largest bird of prey found in the state. South Carolina eagles have wingspans of 6 to 7 feet, and weigh 7 to 10 pounds. Eagles from more northern nesting populations which winter in South Carolina are noticeably larger. The eyes, bill, and feet are yellow. It may be identified by its broad, long wings and large, heavy bill. The bird has heavy, powerful wing beats in flight and holds its extended wings flat when soaring. Bald eagles can attain speeds in excess of 60 mph.
The bald eagle can be seen in every state of the union except Hawaii. South Carolina supports over 100 nesting pairs of eagles and reaches a peak number of just over 300 eagles in mid-January. This number represents resident adults and immature young as well as a small number of migrants from northern breeding areas. Most nests in South Carolina are located along the major river drainages of the lower Coastal Plain, and are usually adjacent to large areas of impounded marshes intentionally managed to attract waterfowl by providing suitable shallow-water feeding habitat. This has allowed the establishment of nesting territories in sites further inland than the historical range. Eagles usually lay eggs in late December and early January in South Carolina, and as a result, the best opportunity to see eagles in South Carolina is by boat during January along river bottomland. They can also be seen adjacent to the dams on inland reservoirs, particularly below hydroelectric power plants.
The bald eagle is a fish eagle and true to its name - the majority of its diet consists of fish. While fishing, they snatch a variety of fish species from the top six inches of water. Coots gallinules, and injured ducks supplement the diet during much of the winter, and they occasionally take rabbits or other small mammals. The bald eagle is also a scavenger, regularly feeding on dead fish and sometimes animals killed along the highway. Like most predators, the bald eagle is opportunistic and utilizes whatever is most attainable as prey. Food availability is most important during the period of nesting and raising young. Nesting during the winter months enhances feeding because water birds are abundant and reduced aquatic vegetation makes fish easier to capture.
In South Carolina, eagles usually construct their nests in large live pine trees. The canopy of the nest tree is typically higher than the surrounding forests and within one mile of open water. Nests are typically six feet across the top, six to eight feet from top to bottom, and an average of 100 feet from the ground. Nests are often used year after year with more materials added each season. In one extraordinary case, a nest weighed nearly 4,000 pounds. The adults continue to feed the young eagles for four to six weeks after the young have fledged from the nest. This enables the inexperienced fledglings to strengthen their muscles and sharpen their flying and hunting skills until they can sustain themselves independently. The young adults move north in spring and summer. Eagles banded in South Carolina have been reported as far away as Canada. Adults are at nesting territories from September through June. Juveniles and adults from other breeding populations are customarily in the state throughout the year.
Pesticides, indiscriminate shooting, and habitat alterations have been the primary factors reducing the bald eagle population from colonial times to the present, as man and eagle competed for some of the same habitat. Historically, in excess of 100 pairs of eagles nested in South Carolina. During the late 1960's, our state’s breeding population was reduced to about a dozen pairs. The wholesale use of persistent pesticides, such as DDT, contributed to this precipitous decline in the eagle population by causing almost total reproductive failure. Regulating the use of persistent pesticides has led to recent increases in reproductive success in eagles. Education and heightened public awareness have resulted in reduced shooting mortality. Habitat protection for the eagle also helped stabilize the eagle population during the 1970's, and substantial increases have been monitored by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Bald eagles are protected under the Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.
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