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CRP Assists Charleston Couple

CRP Assists Charleston Couple in Welcoming
Wildlife to Plantation

Bill East of Wadmalaw Island in Charleston County has worked to produce lespedeza in his field borders under CRP.

By Amy O. Maxwell, USDA-NRCS
Communications and Marketing Specialist

Bill and Jane East have their own little piece of heaven on Wadmalaw Islandin Charleston County, SC. A gorgeous 243-acre plantation scattered with numerousrow crops, ancient oak trees, and a stunning home built in the early 1900’s isthe place that the East family calls their home away from home. Currentlyworking and residing in Columbia, the couple visits the plantation on weekendsor any other time they can escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Theybegan working with NRCS in 1993 when they constructed a pond on their land. Thenthey entered into a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract in 1999. Workingclosely with NRCS District Conservationist Dwayne Mangum and NRCS SoilConservation Technician Ann Bentley, the Easts have been able to turn theirplantation into a healthy, diverse, and productive area for farming, wildlife,and for pure enjoyment.

Bill East rents some of his land to a local farmer and has worked diligentlyto protect the land from wind erosion, to enhance water quality, and to attractwildlife habitat. A true wildlife lover, East has a passion for all creatures,great and small, and is able to identify just about any bird that crosses hispath. Through CRP, East and NRCS Soil Conservationist Lynette Savereno developeda conservation plan that included installation of field borders, riparianbuffers, and filter strips. Savereno respects East and his desire to protect andnurture wildlife and says, "There is no doubt that Bill’s number onepriority is wildlife habitat enhancement."

Installation of three zones of riparian forest buffers protects the waterquality of a nearby wetland. These buffers are planted with Lespedeza andlongleaf pine. The filter strips, which East calls "wildlifecorridors," are planted with Shrub Lespedeza and serve multiplepurposes. First, they help prevent damage to crops by wind erosion, and theyalso protect water quality by preventing harmful runoff. However, East likes topoint out that these areas are especially useful as transportation routes forwildlife. They can cross from field to field in these sheltered areas and alsouse the vegetation for food. "I like to think of these as wildlife highwayswhich birds and other wildlife can use for protection, shelter, food, and aneasily accessible route around my land," says East.

"I have always been motivated to protect wildlife, but just didn’tknow where to start," continued East. "But, it was the technicalassistance I received from NRCS, even more so than the financial, that reallyhelped me accomplish my goals here on the plantation." He praised NRCS forthe assistance he received and also urged other farmers, particularly farmers ofsmall operations, to explore cost-share programs, like CRP, for their own farms."On a small farm like mine, it was encouraging to receive technicalassistance from conservation professionals who could help me bring my ideas tofruition," he said.

Together, Bill and Jane East are enjoying the benefits that CRP has alreadyproduced. In addition to the peace of mind knowing they are protecting wildlife,which provides personal enjoyment, they know that the conservation practices arepermanent and that someday, their children and grandchildren will share the samejoy. The couple has plans to continue their relationship with NRCS, includingthe installation of more conservation practices through CRP. With continueddetermination, the East family will surely enhance and protect their home awayfrom home for future generations to enjoy.