For their exemplary leadership and dedication to bird conservation on local, regional, national, and hemispheric levels, the South Carolina Working Group of the South Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative was presented with the North American Migratory Bird Joint Venture Conservation Champion Award for a Regional Partnership. Ducks Unlimited is a partner of this working group.
The diverse set of agencies and nongovernmental organizations in South Carolina have worked together to establish mutual priorities and accomplish more as a team than any of them could individually. Through the ACE Basin Focus Area Task Force and similar task forces focused on Winyah Bay and the southern Lowcountry, Audubon South Carolina, Ducks Unlimited, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge Program have worked togetherto protect the most crucial landscapes for birds and other wildlife.These efforts were based around the most important habitats identified for bird conservation in specific focus areas established by the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture through its South Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative (SAMBI) and Waterfowl Implementation Plan.
Since the beginning of SAMBI, partners have received $79 million in federal conservation grant awards, leveraging over $365 million from more than 450 partners to conserve over 378,000 acres of important habitat. Efforts in South Carolina have permanently protected more than 200,000 acres (two-thirds of which is private land) of the 350,000-acre ACE Basin, 135,000 acres in the south Lowcountry (Savannah River) region, and 56,000 acres of coastal habitat around Winyah Bay. Other key landscapes protected include the Francis Beidler Forest, a 16,000-acre protected area recognized as an Important Bird Area and one of 36 Ramsar wetlands of international importance in the United States.