Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today

As I put these notes together for my weekly column, the rain is falling and the wind is blowing at least 20 knots. Much of the RBC Heritage was washed out today. While it creates something of an inconvenience for the players, it is a big problem for the folks keeping the course in shape, as well as those in charge of making sure the schedule moves along . Fortunately, the players are used to this sort of thing and the organizers of the tournament are just as proficient at what they do as the pro golfers are at driving, chipping and putting. Regardless of weather challenges, if forty-something years of experience is any indicator, the golf event will be, as always, a superior outing.

As we are on furlough from the House, I want to pull the focus back a bit and talk about those things that are important locally, including the golf tournament. One of the things that make the Heritage such a dramatic event is the fact that the final several holes are played along Calibogue Sound. One of the things that make Calibogue Sound so spectacular is the fact that it contains some of the cleanest water on the east coast. That is not unrelated to the fact that Hilton Head Island has achieved the status as a “world-class” resort and golfing destination. In truth, water quality is why this part of the world is not only known for golf, but oysters, crabs (hard and soft shell), and fish and fishing of many different varieties.

When we think locally of water quality, there are a few names that always are part of the conversation. My dear friend Nancy Schilling was the founder of the amazingly effective Friends of the Rivers. Collins Doughtie is a legendary fisherman and columnist who, literally since childhood, has been a fierce advocate for our waters, and for all our wonderful outdoors. Jimmy McIntire is another outdoorsman who has made himself an expert on water quality. Jimmy can quote paragraph and verse from the work of internationally acclaimed South Carolina scientists such as Dr. Fred Holland, when its time to defend our local waters. Elected officials rarely relish having Jimmy testify at their events, the exception being this representative, who always seeks input from Mr. McIntire on any matters dealing with local ecology.

Perhaps the most effective advocate for our local water quality is Captain Dave Harter. My good friend Dave was the last chairman of the board of Friends of the Rivers, before it was subsumed into the Port Royal Sound Foundation, on whose board Captain Harter currently sits. He is the president of the Hilton Head Sportfishing Club. Dave also put together the Friends of Waddell, who do excellent fundraising for the Waddell Mariculture Center in Greater Bluffton.

Captain Dave is now spearheading an effort to build a 3000 gallon marine aquarium to showcase our local cobia and red drum fisheries at the new headquarters of the Port Royal Sound Foundation Center at Lemon Island. For $100 donation, you can choose either a cobia or red drum imaged brick to surround the new aquarium, the largest between Savannah and Charleston. Please email to donate to this excellent cause.

Finally, I hope to see each of you at the 14th Annual May River Cleanup and 4th Annual Earth Day Celebration beginning at 9 a.m. at the Bluffton Oyster Factory Park. We can’t all be water quality luminaries such as those mentioned above, but we can all do our part. See you this coming Saturday, 26 April. Please bring your kayak or larger boat, as there are some things that have to be removed from our coves and sandbars. See you there.