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Managing the Ecology of Hitchcock Woods

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. It wasn’t hunting that attracted the wealthy Hitchcock family to South Carolina in the early 1900’s; rather it was the well drained sands that provided good footing for horse sporting activities soils that also grew pine trees beautifully but not crops. Their legacy, Aiken’s urban forest Hitchcock Woods, was home to red cockaded woodpeckers until the 1970’s. Since then, a dedicated regime of prescribed fires, managed with extraordinary caution to protect surrounding homes, has removed the thick undergrowth that is restoring the natural ecology of the long leaf pine system. Not only is the fuel load reduced to prevent unmanageable fires, but conditions are such that an agreement with the Francis Marion National Forest has allowed naturalists to reintroduce young pairs of red cockaded woodpeckers. Educational outreach in the community has created acceptance of carefully controlled prescribed burns necessary to create this habitat. 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.