NANPA Foundation has awarded Mac Stone of Greenville, South Carolina with its 2018 Philip Hyde Grant of $2,500 for his Old Growth: Ancient Swamps of the South project.
Since 1999, the Philip Hyde Grant has been made possible by individual donations to the NANPA Foundation. It is awarded by the NANPA Foundation to a NANPA member who is actively pursuing an environmental project that is consistent with the missions of NANPA and the NANPA Foundation.
Stone’s project focuses on three locations: Corkscrew Swamp in Naples, FL; Congaree National Park near Columbia, SC; and Beidler Forest near Charleston, SC. Although these properties are secure from development, the challenges that they face result from outside forces and the ongoing dissolution and fragmentation of wetland habitat on the periphery that threatens the hydrology, connectivity, ecology and integrity of these landscapes. These old growth swamps are some of the most biodiverse and ecologically rich landscapes of the nation. They exist on the fringes of large cities and yet they are widely unknown. The goal, however, is not to overload the sanctuaries with visitors, but to heighten the profile and increase the appreciation for and understanding of all wetland forests through the compelling narratives found in these ambassadorial swamps. This comes at a critical time when southern states have started to witness firsthand the ecological and social roles that wetlands must be allowed to play, especially after hurricanes Irma, Florence and Michael.
A raccoon emerges from a hollowed Tupelo tree in the Beidler Forest, SC. © Mac Stone
Photography is the delivery vehicle for this entire project. As visual creatures, we use what we see to teach us what we know. If the majority of the public is afraid to physically explore these flooded forests, then it becomes harder to convince them to become advocates for their protection. Photography is the door that most people need to walk through to visit these places for the first time.
Old Growth will use some of the most advanced and creative photographic tools to bring these stories to fruition. Camera traps will document the nocturnal and seldom-seen wildlife that inhabits these bottomland forests. Drones and aerial photography from fixed wing airplanes will help document the context in which the landscapes exist. Canopy surveys of 100-foot tall cypress will also be used to highlight the botanical diversity found in the ancient trees. Underwater photography will reveal the aquatic life that provides the foundation from which the entire system runs. Furthermore, photography will play the main role in creating breakthroughs in science that this project will reveal.
© Mac Stone
The grant will help finish the fieldwork gathering photography and information that will be complied into a coffee-table book, expected to be published in November 2020, followed by a traveling exhibit throughout the southern area of the United States.
A yellow bellied slider and American alligator soak up the sun on a submerged log in the Francis Beidler Forest, South Carolina. © Mac Stone
This grant was named for Philip J. Hyde who was the primary conservation photographer for the Sierra Club and became known for his color images of Western landscapes that became a weapon against environmental degradation. Photographers receiving the grant are following in his footsteps of environmental protection through photography.
The NANPA Foundation initiates, partners, operates, and generates funding for projects that advance the awareness and appreciation of nature through photography. For information about the NANPA Foundation, visit its website at www.nanpafoundation.org.