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Environmental Stewardship
is Our Trump Card

November 2018

by Kim Likins - Hilton Head Island Mayor Pro Tem
Mayor David Bennett as seen in Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

Sustaining Hilton Head Island’s reputation for environmental stewardship as established by our island’s original designers should always be at the forefront of our town’s initiatives. It is important to remember that, due to the founding developers of our island, we have a public record of environmental stewardship coupled with historic and cultural respect.

Our island is known for having made a difference over the past 50 years in how newly developed resort areas should be sensitive to their surroundings. Therefore, we can never take for granted the wealth of intrinsic treasures like our amazing beaches, our wildlife and the soothing evening breezes that make up an essential lifestyle for us who feel blessed to call Hilton Head Island home.

As community leaders, we are entrusted to focus our awareness effectively so that we have practical, forward-thinking management policies in place to retain and enhance the qualities of life we enjoy. Two important areas on our town’s environmental stewardship agenda are our lagoon systems and our beachfront.

Our critical lagoon systems
Recent hurricanes and tropical storms have shown us just how important drainage issues can be on Hilton Head Island. Our lagoon systems are critical to water management, and we as a town must remain vigilant in monitoring and repairing areas that are inadequate.

In light of the new realities of tropical storms and water levels, the town must have consistent storm water agreements in place with the planned neighborhoods that clearly identify responsibilities to ensure we have high quality water management systems island-wide. When conflicts arise between neighboring communities that create or exacerbate drainage issues, the town needs to step in to identify and deal with them.

Our nationally prominent beachfront
We have every reason to be proud of our beautiful beaches, particularly since they continue to receive high praise from residents, visitors and national publications. Wise and attentive management continues to be a key reason for the recognition, and our town staff is to be congratulated on its outstanding work. I thank our Town Council forerunners who had the vision to install a unique system of financing, which has provided for our beach renourishment program.

One area that I hope will continue to make strides is our loggerhead turtle program. Since 1985, the nesting program has grown to an average of 250 nests a year. With 13 miles of beach along both the Atlantic Ocean and Port Royal Sound shorelines, we have the potential for a much larger nesting volume.
Today, we have a dedicated group of over 300 volunteers who work diligently to protect the nests on our island. With their support, and by working closely with the Turtle Protection Project team, we have the opportunity to become a state-of-the-art community for this endangered species.

Continued respect requires continued vigilance
Whenever I visit other areas of South Carolina, I am always meeting new people who tell me they can’t wait to come back and vacation here, because it is such a beautiful and restful place. Indeed, we have succeeded in being respected as a destination, enterprise, natural environment village, and resort community of engaged residents.

So, given that, I believe we have a true responsibility to hold fast to our trump card of environmental stewardship renown, to fully appreciate with actions, not just words, and to seize opportunities to get even better in the future.

Working together as a community, it is an achievable goal.