The Port Royal Sound Foundation is dedicated to preserving the Lowcountry’s most pristine, historic and important estuary.
No matter where you travel in Beaufort County, you’ll likely cross the Port Royal Sound. Located between Hilton Head, Port Royal, St. Helena, Parris and other smaller islands, several rivers flow into the estuary — including the Broad, Coosawhatchie, Colleton, Chechessee and Pocotaligo rivers. Since 2000, the Port Royal Sound Foundation (previously known as Friends of the Rivers) has educated municipalities and the general public on the importance of protecting the waters of the Port Royal Sound system. The five main focuses of the foundation are:
Much of the foundation’s focus is educating children through field trips and other activities. Volunteers take the children out on to the dock where they get samples from the water and then take back inside to look under microscopes. The maritime center functions as a free museum and aquarium with a variety of fish, snakes, horseshoe crabs and alligators. “We want people to get a good feel for the wildlife around here” says executive director Jody Hayward. Right now, the foundation is hosting “Zoo Zooms,” a virtual field trip where students get to learn more about wildlife and even meet some of the animals that live at the maritime center.
The foundation partners with the SC Department of Natural Resources to host fishing days when they bring kids out on the water and teach them how to fish. Kids learn how to tie a fishing knot, hook bait and take the fish off the hook once it is caught. The foundation also hosts a summer camp where kids learn to fish, explore the salt marsh, hike and more. Different events are held throughout the year where children of all ages can learn how to catch crabs, throw a cast net and tips for a safe catch and release.
The foundation renovated the Lemon Island Marina and opened its maritime center in 2014. The foundation is working on a new in-depth histororical exhibit that will showcase the history of the Port Royal Sound. Visitors will see historic photos of former fishermen, what the marina used to look like and what it was used for. For many years it was a gathering place for local fishermen. There is also a large, comprehensive exhibit on the history of shrimping, crabbing and fishing.
The PRSF puts a huge emphasis on preserving the Lowcountry and making it a desirable place for both locals and visitors for many years to come. The foundation partners with USCB to research and study the economic benefits of the sound. Beaufort County has the opportunity to capitalize on the Port Royal Sound habitats and the benefits of the beaches. By living here, we are tasked with the mission to protect the sound and do what we can to preserve the land.
When you walk into the maritime center, you are greeted by artwork from local artists. The artwork rotates throughout the year so different artists have a chance to be featured and have their work shown. Every year, the foundation hosts a recycled art contest to help bring awareness to Beaufort County’s plastic bag ban and keep the water and land of the Port Royal Sound Area clean and healthy. LL