When Mr. duPont created the foundation, he did so with the idea that the land he called Nemours Plantation and loved so dearly would be forever protected, and that stewardship is at the heart of what we do. Being good stewards of this tremendous resource is a daunting but highly rewarding task each staff member gladly undertakes. Nemours is an incredibly diverse site, offering opportunities for an individual to see dolphins strand feeding in the Combahee River tributaries, walk over rice field dikes originally constructed by slaves, stroll through quiet hardwood forests, and hear the whistle of bobwhites and wind blowing through giant pines, all without leaving the property.
As stewards, each activity we engage in is carefully considered for its impact on the natural and cultural resources on Nemours. We are very proactive in our management of these resources. For example, each year we apply prescribed fires to as many acres as possible. These fires mimic the frequent fires that once occurred naturally throughout the Lowcountry. Many of our native plants and animals evolved with these frequent fires and consequently thrive because of our prescribed burning program. Today, these fires have for the most part been suppressed by humans which has lead to species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, and indigo snake being placed on the endangered species list.
Through our forest management program, we are well into replacing our pine forests with the longleaf pine which was the dominant pine species. The longleaf pine savanna landscape rivals the rainforest for the number of different plants occurring within its habitats. In very healthy longleaf pine savannas, investigators have counted as many as 45 different species of plants within one square meter.
Findings from our research programs help guide our stewardship practices. For example, one of our graduate students recorded 100 different species of birds and over 35,000 individuals using one of our managed wetlands when we held the water at very shallow depths during the spring. This has persuaded us to reconsider how we manage these wetlands after the waterfowl season has concluded and to take a more holistic approach to our management. These findings were delivered to other landowners and managers in the ACE Basin through a well attended workshop on shorebird management.
Perhaps the most frequent comment heard from visitors to Nemours is what an absolutely beautiful and peaceful place this is, followed by how truly thankful they are that someone had the foresight to protect this resource. Mr. duPont and his family have left us with a great legacy and we consider our roles as its stewards to be one of our most important and fulfilling tasks.