Sullivan's Island explores cutting down trees in maritime forest

Sullivan's Island explores cutting down trees in maritime forest

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Dozen of people filled Sullivan's Island town hall meeting Monday to raise concerns about a forest many feel is overgrown, but can't be touched because it's protected.

"Are we a beach or are we a maritime forest?" Said Al Phillips, who owns an oceanfront home.

Phillips, and others, said the vegetation growth cuts off oceanfront views. But, it's not just an issue of beauty, it's also one of safety.

"We have a photograph of a wild hog that was in our back yard last year," said Phillips. "And, that's crazy. You don't want a wild hog where you're living."

Phillips said every night, you can hear the coyotes in the forest.

"My daughter won't walk to the beach at night at 8 or 8:30 or 9 p.m." Said Phillips. "She will not walk to the beach for the fear of a hog or coyote."

Many others addressed Sullivan's Island town council with similar stories.
Mayor Pat O'Neil said they're valid issues and their concerns were heard loud and clear.

"What we're trying to do is come up with a way to handle that particular part of the land," said Mayor O'Neil. "We want to try to address as many of those concerns as possible, while still be responsible stewards."

Mayor O'Neil said there is about 200 acres of protected maritime forest property on Sullivan's Island that has accreted over the years. 
That's essentially the opposite of erosion, the growth is relatively new, developed from water washing soil onshore.

Mayor O'Neil said council is working to develop a plan for the transition zone, the forest that sits right next to land owners' property.

"We have always planned on managing that strip of the land more aggressively," said Mayor O'Neil. "In other words, clearing out more vegetation."

Council discussed how to preserve some species in certain areas, cutting down smaller vegetation like shrubs and unwanted trees.

Many just hope something is done soon.

"It's clearly frustrating to sit on the front porch and see the trees," said Phillips.

Council will work to a solidifying a compromise at the council meeting in February.

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