Today we are going to be talking about everything ACE Basin; why it’s important, why we love it, and why it is an excellent place to explore!
Hello adventurers and welcome back to the blog! While we are all celebrating the holidays in our very own ways including bringing the merry outside with us, make sure to take the time to visit our website and all of our social media pages! Shopping small can be one of the best things you can do for your community and everyone in it! Shopping small supports a local business, a local community, and your neighbors right here in the Lowcountry. What better way to spread the jolly and the cheer that we all need at the end of this year? Also, what better gift to give than that of exploration, adventure, conservation, and education all with Coastal Expeditions? Give the gift of the great outdoors and the gift that keeps on giving this holiday! So many of us have been cooped up indoors due to this devastating pandemic, let’s get outside and enjoy the fresh air and make unforgettable memories together!
For those of you who already follow us on social media, you might have seen us mention something in our Instagram and Facebook stories about the ACE Basin recently, and many other new and exciting things happening at Coastal Expeditions right now. While the ACE Basin might be new for many of our out of town readers, don’t worry too much. It is a foggy concept for many of our locals too, and that is still okay. Don’t fret! We know it might sound familiar to many of you, and it might be a topic you’ve touched on at school or heard during tours throughout the Lowcountry, or possibly heard it casually referred to on the news. If you can’t quite put your finger on it, it’s still okay! After you read this two-part blog series, that won’t be the case. You actually might be a lot closer to it than you might realize. In this two-part blog, we are going to be talking about what exactly the ACE Basin is, why it’s important, why we love it, and why it is such a fantastic place to explore! We guarantee that after reading both installments of this blog that you will want to go exploring the ACE Basin for yourself.
[What Is It]
It might not be so much of a question of what it is, it actually might be a question of what it isn’t! There is so much to this stunning and masterful ecological system, and it has everything that South Carolina wants and needs. The ACE Basin is one of the largest wetland ecosystems on the Atlantic Coast, according to Discover South Carolina. Imagine the plethora of animals, plants, marine life, and organisms it’s home to! It spans 1.6 million acres but only about 200,000 acres are protected beautiful and untouched wetland. These simple and graceful 200,00 acres make what we love about South Carolina something truly special. It is also home to one of the largest undeveloped estuaries in the country.
The ACE gets its name from the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers and is home to four main nature preserves that are open to the public. It is home to some of the most prolific collections of species of wildlife and it is a step back into history. Located on the scenic route along US 17 and I-95, the roads between Charleston and Hilton Head, this stunning scenery gives so much more than just the beauty that reaches the eye. It was once home to some of the most booming rice plantations, but now, according to the Nature Conservancy, it is one of the most important waterfowl habitats. The many acres of the ACE Basin watershed is positioned around the Asheepoo, Combahee, and Edisto rivers and is one of the largest, undeveloped wetlands and important ecosystems that still remains on the east coast today.
According to the SC Conservancy, the ecosystem is made up of wetlands, forest uplands, tidal marshes, barrier islands, peatlands, and more. It supports and houses over 30 plant communities that provide an extremely safe and important habitat for regional waterfowl, endangered species, and migratory birds. It also provides a home to fish, alligators, and a plethora of other wildlife. While it might span 1.6 million acres, as we mentioned above, the 200,000 untouched acres have been saved by the SC conservancy. It is protected from any outside powers touching or hurting it as of 2015, according to the SC Picture Project. The ACE Basin is also a protected environment for sea turtles and has helped 3,000 to 10,000 more sea turtles hatch every year! The ACE Basin serves as a buffer and its own bubble of protection to the wildlife and plant life that live there from construction, life, pollution, and the pressures our culture puts on nature itself.
This land and everything that lives and thrives there does so with the help of local, state, and national agents, private landowners, and a multitude of incredible organizations. Along with the incredible natural habitats, ecosystems, and animals, the ACE Basin gives home to, there are also protected historical rice plantations like the Cheeha-Combahee Plantations. Just this one plantation has over 12,000 acres of protected property.
[Why Is The ACE Basin Important?]
As you can imagine, its importance lies in its existence, providing a naturally strong ecosystem to birds, animals, marine life, and plant life that might be extinct without it. Along with providing a home to such a vast array of waterfowl, keeping the sea turtle population growing and flourishing, it helps protect and provide a home to endangered and threatened species such as the osprey, wood stork, shortnose sturgeon, and the bald eagle. It is also a very important research facility and refuge for many different local and national groups, and a refuge for animals and plantlife alike. It is a constant battle to protect the few hundred thousand acres that remain untouched. Education and appreciation of this wild land is one of its strong assets and one of the many things we try to do when we take our guests on a tour anywhere near or in the ACE Basin. It has given us so much and we want to continue to give back and protect it as much as we can.
Each of the three rivers that make up the ACE and give it its name all has a rich history and its unique traits of what makes it special. According to the Post and Courier, due to its vast size, it has been referred to as one of the greatest places on earth. Others have called it “South Carolina’s Yellowstone”. While so many other natural ecosystems and habitats begin to disappear, the ACE Basin becomes even more critical as more wildlife depends on its refuge. As time goes on, more new species have begun to appear and call the ACE Basin home. Protection needs to continue to grow stronger and powerful because the outside world is starting to inch closer attempting to steal what’s left of the ACE.
Now that you know a little bit more about the ACE Basin, and know exactly where it is and what it holds, does it ring a clearer bell? Have you spent some time there without knowing it? How many times have you driven between Charleston and Hilton Head and were struck by its beauty or the amount of wildlife you saw? That is the magic of the ACE Basin, it is hiding in plain sight. We hope you enjoyed part one of this blog, and we look forward to bringing you the second half soon. If you have any questions about the ACE Basin or any of our tours and expeditions that travel out to areas connected to the ACE Basin, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to helping you discover the wonders and beauty of the Lowcountry and South Carolina. Don’t forget, there is still time to shop small and give big! Visit our website to learn more about our gift cards and other gifting opportunities! We hope you are having a wonderful holiday season, and we will see you, next time adventurers! Stay safe and don’t lose your sense of adventure!