YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENCE when you first set foot on Hilton Head Island. The maritime forest hems roadways, fairways and walkways, and shades the landscape. Spanish moss waves in the soft breeze. Flowers bloom in January and well into autumn. Wildlife is plentiful and diverse. Nature pervades—from our rolling beach dunes to the vast salt marshes, and the loftiest yellow pine to the deepest black gum pond.
While this large Island emerged as the vital resort and residential community it is today, real estate developers, utilities, and local government forged creative ways to protect significant lands and waters, preserve cultural sites, and add public open spaces.
HERE ARE SIX CONSERVATION VICTORIES on Hilton Head Island. Each event was a “win-win” solution that made this community a better place.
1. Reclaimed Water. Since the early 1980s, Hilton Head Public Service District (PSD) has irrigated the Island’s six mayor watersheds with high-quality, advanced-treated domestic water. These sustainable water recycling projects were the first such restoration efforts in the U.S. They have preserved hundreds of acres of native old-growth wetlands, home to rare and endangered wildlife and vegetation.
2. Trees and Wetland Protection. In the mid-1980s, the Town of Hilton Head Island passed the first-of-its- kind regulations to protect trees in the community. The Tree Protection Ordinance protects against and mitigates loss of trees based on ecological standards.
3. Ecotourism. The new wave for Hilton Head Island’s economy is nature and education-based travel that benefits the local community. With abundant natural resources and qualified tour professionals, this community is poised to serve this new tourism market that is economically sound and generates low-impact development. News: Hilton Head Island will host the prestigious International Ecotourism Society Conference on Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism, September 19-21. It will be a great showcase of the Island and an important opportunity for Island leaders to learn from experts how to create a stronger, greener economy.
4. Coastal Discovery Museum. In 2007, the museum opened at historic Honey Horn, site of an historic plantation. The museum offers a wide range of environmental and cultural interpretive programs for families, schools, and Island visitors. It also hosts popular community events such as the Hilton Head Island Farmers Market and annual Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance Motoring Festival.
5. Public Open Space. In 1988, the Town of Hilton Head commissioned a long-range master plan for parks, recreation, and open space. Based on recommendations in the plan, the Town has since acquired land for community parks, sports facilities, environmental protection, and public pathways (multiple-use trails). This initiative encourages exercise, safe, family-oriented travel, visitation to local businesses, and less use of automobiles on Island roadways.
6. Community Recycling. On April 1, 2011 the Town launched the Island-wide Waste and Recycling Collection Program for households. Now recycling at home is easy: simply put all acceptable materials in one cart for weekly pickup by the franchised collection service. Islanders still can drop off waste at the Beaufort County Convenience Center at 26 Summit Drive. Green tip: Save gasoline and only use the Center only for oversized materials.
Hilton Head Island continues to invent new solutions that protect the environment, build a stronger economy, and improve our lifestyle. Six Cheers for the Island!