About the Watershed
The three sub-watersheds of focus (Store Creek, the South Edisto River-Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, and the Dawho River-North Edisto River) span Edisto Island and the Town of Edisto Beach and are part of the larger Edisto River Basin. The Edisto River Basin is the watershed for the Edisto River, one of the longest free-flowing blackwater rivers in North America. The lower part of the Edisto River Basin joins with the Ashepoo and Combahee River Basins to create the ACE Basin, an estuary of national significance. Much of the ACE Basin has been preserved and protected through public and private partnerships. Land use across the watershed includes emergent herbaceous wetlands, evergreen forests, woody wetlands, scrub/shrub, cultivated crops, pasture/hay, mixed forest, grassland, deciduous forest, and open water, in addition to developed land (open space, low intensity, and medium intensity) and barren land. Land use across Edisto Island is mostly rural with low density residential and agricultural land uses predominating. The Town of Edisto Beach, a 6-mile-long barrier island made up of approximately 25% salt marsh, is a beachfront community with a small population of full-time residents that experiences a seasonal influx of tourists, and also includes a 1,200-acre state park that hosts both cabins and campsites. Waterways are tidally influenced, with main tributaries including Baily Creek, Milton Creek, Store Creek, and Fishing Creek. The tributaries converge to form St. Pierre Creek which empties to the Edisto River near the Town of Edisto Beach.
Dawho River - North Edisto
South Edisto - Intracoastal
The Edisto River has a wealth of wildlife and cultural history dating back from the Native American Indians who inhabited the area prior to European colonization, to the enslaved Africans who were brought to the Sea Islands in the 1700s and 1800s to labor in the rice, indigo, and sea island cotton industries, to the surviving Gullah-Geechee people who have kept their culture alive for generations. Many lessons in stewardship of our natural resources can be learned from the traditional owners of the land, and these communities often lead by example when it comes to living in harmony with our waterways and coastal resources. They are also some of the first to feel the impacts, both economically and culturally, from a loss of access to clean waterways and healthy shellfish resources.
Both residents and visitors alike appreciate the natural beauty of the watershed and the many ecosystem services it provides. There is a strong community ethic to preserve and protect local waterways so they can be enjoyed for both consumptive (shellfish and finfish harvest) and non-consumptive (water-based recreation, scenic viewshed, wildlife viewing) uses.
Photos by B. Prochaska