SEAFWA Spring 2007 Legal Committee Meeting
March 21 & 13, 2007
Charleston, South Carolina

NOTE:  A high resolution PowerPoint slide show with more pics is available for download in the Document Vault.  Be sure to check it out!  

The Legal Committee of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies met in historic Charleston, South Carolina for its spring planning meeting on March 12 & 13.  Although attendance was light, with only four states represented, our South Carolina hosts had assembed an excellent agenda of relevant and timely CLE topics.  In addition, members were treated to a traditional Low Country seafood boil on Thursday evening, as well as live entertainment that proved to be a real blast!

The meeting was held on the grounds of the South Carolina Marine Resources Center, a 78 acre campus located on James Island adjacent to the Charleston Harbor estuary.  The Center occupies land where historic Ft. Johnson was once located, and where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired.  As luck would have it, our meeting coincided with the 146th anniversary of that event, and we were privileged to witness a reenactment of that event on the site.
But first, there was work to do.  

Our program began on Thursday morning with a presentation by Professor Stephen Spitz, Charleston Law School, on water rights and the history of litigation between governmental entities over the right to take riparian and ground waters.

Professor Spitz

Participants were also givne a tour of the Marine Resources Center by Dr. Bob Van Dolah, who discussed a number of ongoing research projects including oyster  bed monitoring and restoration, shrimp aquaculture, and red drum stocking.  Dr. Van Dolah showed us the tank in which mature red drum are induced to spawn in the first stage of the production of juveniles for stocking.  We also learned that Georgia is a participant in this program as well.

L to R:  Buford Mabry, Jim Quinn, Dr. Van Dolah, Emily Hitchcock, Paul League

After a lunch of local chopped pork  barbeque, Will Duda and Chris Near of Ogletree, Nash, Smoak  & Stewart, PC, presented an overview of  recent developments in labor law including the new Federal electronic discovery provisions , workplace retaliation, and new rules governing settlement agreements.

L to R:  Sheryl Holtam,  Patrick Tyndalll, Emily Hitchcock, Will Duda,  Margie Rish, Chris Near (hidden).

The Thursday session concluded with a presentation by Patrick Tyndall of the Federal Highway administration regarding "Section 4(f)" rules governing highway projects.

Now here is where we are going to surely step on some toes.  Many of our jurisdictions can claim good local cheeses, as has been made apparent by the cheese cutting competitions of the last few regional meetings.  And while I like a good hunk of cheese every bit as much as the next person, I have to tell you that I have not yet tasted the cheese that can come anywhere near good seafood, and one of the master cooks of said seafood in South Carolina has to be one of our own, Jim Quinn.

L to R:  Jim Quinn & His Able Assistant, ***.

Forget the cheese, Jim and one of his enforcement guys started us off with a couple of bushels of steamed oysters.  This was followed by a big pot of "frogmore stew," a low country boil consisting of shrimp, corn on the cob, and spiced sausage, with fresh made coctail sauce served on the side. the meal was topped off with homemade banana pudding., and there were various libations of one's choice throughout.

Following the meal, everyone adjourned down to the waterfront where we witnessed the reenactment of the first shots fired on Fort Sumter.


L to R:  Raleigh Holtam, unknown, Joyce Young, Sheryl Holtam, unknown.
(Raleigh moved before the booming started!)

Friday was devoted primarily to the business and planning for the fall meeting sessions in West Virginia.  Buford will be getting out a letter to all SEAFWA legal committee members with the details  of the planning session,. In addition to the fall agenda, major items discussed included alteration of the current legal chair duties and the establishment of two vice chairs,  distribution of duties to the vice chairs, and a protocol for selection of the meeting site for the spring meeting, as well as planning for electronic participation in the spring session.  

In addtion, Skip Still, S.C. bear biologist, gave a report regarding concerns raised by the SEAFWA Bear Committee

All in all, this was undoubtedly one of the best SEAFWA spring conferences to date.