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State Rep Thanks Sullivan’s Island For Protecting Maritime Forest

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

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(Town of Mount Pleasant photo by Marquel Coaxum)

District 112 State Rep. Joe Bustos has submitted a resolution to the South Carolina House of Representatives that commends Sullivan’s Island’s Town Council and its residents “for protecting and preserving the Maritime Forest.” Bustos said he expected his resolution to be approved by the House in January. “When I was elected, I said I thought the Maritime Forest should be maintained, and that’s the message the people of Sullivan’s Island sent,” Bustos said. “I thought the election and the Sullivan’s Island Town Council should be recognized.” In October 2020, the previous Council voted by a 4-3 margin to approve an agreement that apparently settled a lawsuit filed in July 2010 by homeowners seeking permission to have some trees in the Maritime Forest trimmed to a height of 3 feet. The agreement was amended in April 2021. On May 4 of this year, Sullivan’s Island voters elected three new members to the Council, which now includes five people – Scott Millimet, Justin Novak, Bachman Smith, Gary Visser and Mayor Pat O’Neil – who have voiced their support for plans to find ways to change the agreement and severely limit cutting in the Maritime Forest. Only two Council members who voted to approve the settlement, Greg Hammond and Kaye Smith, remain in office. In his resolution, Bustos pointed out that the Maritime Forest provides a habitat for nesting sea turtles, butterflies, birds, rabbits, raccoons, foxes and “more than 125 species of trees and other plants.” He added that the forest serves as a natural buffer against hurricanes and tropical storms, stabilizing the shoreline by reducing erosion, slowing strong winds and blocking storm surge. The resolution also states that “the South Carolina House of Representatives is proud to recognize and honor the town of Sullivan’s Island for its work in safeguarding and preserving the accreted land of the Maritime Forest and to encourage it to continue to protect this habitat for the enjoyment of residents and visitors for years to come.” 

“This is more of a pat on the back than anything else,” Bustos said. “I don’t know that politically it means that much. The Town Council took the bull by the horns, and this is just to say ‘good on them.’ I believe they did the right thing in protecting the forest.”

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