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2020. Over the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of the population that lives within watersheds that drain into South Carolina estuaries (Cofer-Shabica et al. 1999).

The urbanized area of Charleston increased by more than 400 percent from 1973 to 1994 and is expected to increase at a similar rate for the next several decades (Allen and Lu 2000). Obvious impacts have been, and will continue to be, increased deforestation and forest fragmentation caused by increased residential, commercial and industrial development, and expanded highway and other transportation corridors to support the increased population.

Projected urban land area changes for the Charleston area to the year 2030. Source: Allen & Lu (2000).

Both point source and nonpoint source pollution also increase with population growth. Consumptive pressures relative to recreational uses of fishery resources will accompany population growth as well, as will nonpoint source pollution from watercraft and disturbance of wildlife from increased human activity. The ultimate result is increased stress on natural habitats and natural resources within the coastal zone, as well as increased vulnerability of habitats, fish and wildlife populations, and people to catastrophic events such as major hurricanes. Such predicted human population growth, and the associated impacts on wildlife and habitat, is added incentive to proactively plan for wildlife habitat conservation in the state’s coastal zone.

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