Wednesday, February 28, 2024 Blog · News

The beauty of Lewis Ocean Bay

by Emmi Palenbaum

We are one step closer to saving Lewis Ocean Bay. On February 20, Horry County Council voted to defer the Conway Medical Center (CMC) rezoning for six months to give CMC time to discuss selling the property to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). While the fight isn’t over, this does put us one step closer to a conservation outcome. We are encouraged by this step, but look forward to a future where the land is owned by SCDNR.  

Conservation League staff have been working alongside partners for over two and a half years to advocate for a conservation outcome for this land. One of our strongest partners in this effort is climate activist and Charleston-based artist Mary Edna Fraser.    

This summer, Mary Edna spent time out at Lewis Ocean Bay, painting the preserve. She used her time there to encourage others to stand up for the nature preserve by signing a petition asking CMC to find a different site for their proposed hospital—one that isn’t directly adjacent to a heritage preserve.  

Hospitals do not belong near a place reliant on prescribed burning to thrive. Siting the hospital here would limit the SCDNR and South Carolina Forestry Commission in their prescribed burning capabilities. Prescribed fires at Lewis Ocean Bay, which are also called controlled burns, are critical for the conservation of this natural treasure. These fires mimic historical lightning-ignited fires and remove shrubby vegetation build-up so that rare plants, like the Venus flytrap, can thrive. Prescribed burning is also essential in managing wildfire risk for the surrounding communities. 


Watch Mary Edna Fraser paint among the plants here.

Take action! Sign a petition calling for the protection of Lewis Ocean Bay.

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