A NOTE TO OUR READERS:
"Love of the Lowcountry" is from the October 2005 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.
Every day, each in a special way, they are all out here minding the birds, these men and women who live in the ACE Basin in the South Carolina Lowcountry. They burn fields, mend trunk gates, plant longleaf pine, and rebuild rice dikes--all to make life a little better for birds and for all who love the woods, waters, and roads of this great, green place.
In a minimalist fall that comes late to the Lowcountry, they work for the coming winter when waterfowl will wing onto relic ricefields. They toil for the dove and quail in the open sedge, for the songbirds in forests, for nesting bald eagles, whose young return unerringly to this land of their birth and blood.
Just where is this place? Driving along U.S. 17, I feel it as much as find it between the fevered development of Beaufort and Charleston. The ACE Basin--a new name for an old land in rural Colleton, Charleston, Beaufort, and Hampton Counties--stretches out like a long, green sigh of deep forests; seas of golden spartina; and three tannic, tidal rivers that provide its acronym--the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto. The rivers drain through 350,000 acres of woods and swamps before mingling with marsh and tidal surge from St. Helena Sound.