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A biologist in a red shirt poses in front of a display with a corn snake.
Information icon Whitney Wiest, South Carolina Field Office’s Fish and Wildlife Biologist, with Penny, the corn snake. Photo, Chris Hernandez, USFWS.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife goes “wild”

For the past 35 years, Charleston, South Carolina, has gone wild during the month of February. In what has become known as the largest event of its kind in the nation, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition never fails to disappoint. The three-day art and wildlife exposition exceeded attendance records this year with over 43,000 attendees.

A biologist wearing a wide-brimmed hat smiling with a snake wrapped around his shoulders.
Chris Hernandez, South Carolina Field Office’s Coastal Program Biologist, with Penny, the corn snake. Photo by Whitney Wiest, USFWS.

Aside from the fabulous weather and huge crowds, this year’s Expo had special meaning for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff as we highlighted the 30th anniversary of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Since 1987, nationwide the program has enrolled 45,000 landowners and more than 5,000 organizations. It has restored more than 12,000 miles of stream habitat, 1,500,000 acres of wetlands, and over 4 million acres of uplands. In South Carolina alone, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has enrolled more than 225 landowners in 38 counties. Restoring species to healthy populations cannot be done without these private landowner partners.

Our exhibit highlighted some of the great work done through the program, with special emphasis on longleaf pine habitat restoration. Rounding out the exhibit’s presence were some live critters and plenty of free longleaf pine seedlings from Meeks Nursery and the South Carolina Forestry Commission. In an example of “One Service” unity, staff members from the South Carolina field office and Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery staffed the exhibit over the course of the three-day event.

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