Written by Jay Grant
Staff members at Nature Adventures Outfitters met up with some of our regular customers and many others from around the Charleston area on Saturday February 6, 2016 to volunteer our services to help clean up the Francis Marion National Forest. The Francis Marion Forest Cleanup is an annual event that happens around this time every year. As many of you may know, one of our most popular tours is our blackwater nature tour on Wambaw Creek, which is located in the Francis Marion National Forest, so we at Nature Adventures love to do our part to keep the forest clean and pristine.
Our NAO group was tasked with assisting the cleanup of the Twin Ponds Rifle Range. This is an open range for anyone who wants to bring their own targets and ammo to shoot. What we found out was that people use the word “target” very loosely. We picked up an array of different assortments of these “targets,” ranging from old TVs, washing machines, computers, and bowling pins. Interesting as that was, sadly, there were also many other things used that are a cause for concern. For example, we found many old plastic bottles that had been filled with toxic chemicals like motor oil or antifreeze, then shot to bits and abandoned by the shooters. This is worrisome to us, because, such pollutants can very easily be washed into the natural waterways and negatively affect the surrounding area and its inhabitants. We spent all morning with our shovels and rakes, filling up bags upon bags with the trash that others had left behind. Part of our group also scoured the roadway leading up to the Rifle Range and around Steed Creek Road. It was absolutely astounding to see how much trash had accumulated over such a small area in only one year. In only a very short stretch of road, about one mile or so, we collected enough trash to nearly fill up the back of a pickup truck. On the bright side, as we were packing up to return to the Steed creek Forest Headquarters, we were lucky enough to look up and spot a red-cockaded woodpecker perched on a longleaf pine tree; this served as an instant reminder and gratification for why we were there, for this particular bird and tree are two examples of some of the many vulnerable and endangered species that live within the National Forest.
To see more of Jay’s insights, you can visit his blog here.