Researchers use forests to aid development

By Peter Kent

RiverProperly managed timber lands can help lessen the impacts of urban development and protect South Carolina’s water resources. The preservation of forested areas allows for rainfall to naturally infiltrate the soil; while urban developments, unless built with open spaces, have the potential to increase stormwater runoff.

“Impervious surfaces often associated with urban development include rooftops, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks and roads,” said Dan Hitchcock, biosystems engineer at Clemson’s Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science.

“These surfaces lead to increased stormwater runoff that carries heat and pollutants into rivers, lakes and marshes,” he said. “It’s very important to realize that South Carolina depends on rainwater that infiltrates into the soil to recharge our aquifers and provide drinking water.”

Hitchcock’s research assesses potential water quality and quantity impacts in coastal areas due to converting forests to urban uses. He also studies the impacts of impervious surfaces in developed areas, as well as land uses and management practices.

For information: Dan Hitchcock, 864-546-1013, ext. 236,