Clemson, Yawkey Wildlife Center join forces in coastal ecology research
GEORGETOWN — Clemson University’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center and the Yawkey Foundations will join forces to launch a nationally recognized research program tasked with discovering new and innovative ways to manage coastal wildlife and natural resources.
Clemson and the Yawkey Foundations each will contribute $245,300 over the next three years to create a research cooperative that will seek external funding sources; utilize Clemson faculty and students for collaborative research into coastal resources management; and share research findings with natural resources professionals, decision-makers and stakeholders throughout South Carolina and the nation.
The agreement formalizes research, teaching and outreach collaborations that began in 1994 with a study of shorebirds.
Since that time, they have partnered on several conservation projects, including research and education efforts that focused on sea turtle conservation and coyote ecology and led to the development of a system that reduced coyote destruction of loggerhead sea turtle nests and predation of eggs on the refuge from 60 percent to less than 6 percent.
“Given their geographical proximity and aligned interests, it makes perfect sense for Clemson’s Baruch Institute and the Yawkey Center to collaborate on wildlife and natural resources research. The collaboration will contribute to more efficient and sustainable coastal conservation,” said Skip Van Bloem, forest ecologist and Baruch Institute director.
The Baruch Institute is located on 17,500 acres near Georgetown and is dedicated to research and outreach focused on the ecology and management of the natural resources of coastal South Carolina.
The Yawkey Center consists of North, South and Cat Islands and encompasses 24,000 acres. The property with its diverse habitats, including salt marshes, managed wetlands, wildlife openings, ocean beaches, longleaf pine uplands and maritime forests, is dedicated as a wildlife preserve and waterfowl refuge, and a research and education center.
The center was willed to the state in 1976 by the late Thomas A. Yawkey and is owned and managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources through funding by the Yawkey Foundations.
Tom and Jean Yawkey, best known for their longtime ownership of the Boston Red Sox, began their philanthropy approximately 80 years ago.
“Tom Yawkey was an avid outdoorsman and self-taught naturalist and he placed significant value on wildlife conservation and the protection of the lands that make up Yawkey Wildlife Center,” said Jamie Dozier, a state wildlife biologist and Yawkey Wildlife Center project director.
“By formalizing this research cooperative between the Yawkey Wildlife Center and Baruch Institute, we are furthering Mr. Yawkey’s legacy of natural resources stewardship and we hope to perform significant research into ways to alleviate some of the ecological challenges facing our coastal resources,” he said.
Specific initial goals of the research cooperative will include developing a long-range research plan; developing and deploying a long-term GIS and biological-monitoring program; creating a research website for remote real-time monitoring and tracking of ongoing research; authoring and presenting research results to scientific journals and other publications; and hosting research symposiums and field days for scientists, natural resources professionals and the public.