Tom recently completed the Master Naturalist class offered by the LowCountry Institute and Clemson Extension. The twelve-week program teaches classes throughout the Lowcountry on Spring Island, Nemours Plantation, Congaree National Park, Savannah Wildlife refuge, Bear Island, and Webb Wildlife Center.
How does being a Master Naturalist apply to Architecture?
A true understanding of the site and all the native plants and animals is invaluable for site analysis. Any development affects the ecology of a place, the true challenge is how to enhance (or at the very least protect) the environment while building. Part of being a master naturalist is understanding where building materials come from and the importance of using of regional materials (like Southern Yellow Pine). Fortunately, we have plenty of pine farms so this is not too difficult here.
Native plants are much more heat and deer resistant than many non-native plants. Using native materials in your landscaping will require less maintenance and less water than many other non-native options. Rain gardens are now required in the Beaufort County building code to help reduce runoff into the rivers and marshes.
Anyone who has built on waterfront property since the early 1990's in Beaufort County is familiar with the Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM)river buffer that designates a 35'-100' setback depending on the jurisdiction from the critical line. You cannot build anything impermeable within this setback. A deck that allows water to run through would be allowed, but a concrete patio would not. This buffer also reduces freshwater runoff into the salt water and should be planted with dense natural material. The easiest way to get your buffer is just leave it in the natural state.
Tom says, "Of all the knowledge acquired during the master naturalist program, the most substantial to me is a deeper understanding of how the micro influences the macro, how the smallest of organisms affect and can be affected by the larger species, the creatures that typically get the most attention. I have developed a genuine appreciation of how delicate this beautiful ecology we call the Low Country really is."
For more information try these links:
Take a look at this previously posted blog post about storm water runoff in Beaufort County.
There is more information about rain gardens from Clemson here.
Check out the South Carolina Native Plant Society's website for more about native plant material.
Spring Island has native plant sales through the Spring Island Trust.