One of the many reasons my wife and I chose to move to the Lowcountry was that on our first visit we took a kayak trip and came up close and personal to a wood stork.

A wood stork is an interesting looking bird. It has an ancient look about it . Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Mary Ann and I think it is a majestic and beautiful bird, but we found some who lamented that the wood stork is “an ugly bird that poops on our golf courses and ponds” and they would not care if they become extinct – something that is a real possibility.

We were new here in South Carolina and did not want to get into an argument with a new neighbor. At least I didn’t. Mary Ann was ready to debate.

But, we were dumbfounded that people would think that an animal that’s been part of the landscape for millions of years would be a significant pollutant and that humans had little part in the pollution game.

The fertilizers we put on our lawns, not to mention the chemicals we collectively put on the many golf courses we have in the Lowcountry, contribute far more to pollution than anything some ancient bird or another animal could do.

Humans are the only species that can cause widespread damage to our environment. And we are the only species that can do something to protect our environment. That is the conundrum.

In the 10 years that we lived here in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area, we have noticed a decline in the birds and other wildlife in our ponds. Something seems to be occurring. Are our ponds healthy? How do we find out?

In one local community, I tried to get information on some studies that were conducted nearly a year ago. So far, it seems like we are being stonewalled. I was told “We can’t give you that information since we still have some questions for the company that did the study.”

Well, if the people who requested the study have questions, think of the questions the rest of us have.

We need to find out what is going on so that those of us who love the natural environment and diverse wildlife that inhabit it can make informed and timely input in the decision-making process of those who have been elected to govern and serve.

But we can do this only if we get access to information.

John Riolo lives in Moss Creek and is past president of the Nature Club of Moss Creek.