NEWS | May 3, 2011

Charlie the alligator moves back into federal housing after extended vacation

By Terrence Larimer Joint Base Charleston natural resources manager

Charlie, the Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station twelve foot one inch (we measured him), 600-pound alligator, moved back to his home pond on JB CHS - WS April 30.

Charlie and his family have been military residents since the early 1960s at what was once the U.S. Army Ordnance Depot, which later became the Naval Weapons Station, and is now JB CHS - WS. Charlie and his mate have been in a nearby temporary pond while the renovations to his old pond were carried out.

The pond, newly renovated and now enhanced with water-front, custom built "his and her" alligator housing has undergone a dramatic change. Charlie's home pond is actually a half-acre storm water retention pond that gradually silted in during the last half century until only about 50% of the original pond remained open water. The remainder was choked with willow trees and marsh vegetation thus becoming a poor alligator habitat and an ineffective storm water retention pond.

The newly renovated pond includes two separate, solidly built, waterfront residences - concrete eight-foot by eight-foot storm water junction boxes. Buried underground, but above the water line, the dual dens have exits conveniently situated for easy access to the water. Further adding to Charlie's newly enhanced quality of life is an extensive landscaping effort that turned the formerly shallow, overgrown pond into a deep, clear water pond. Cleared of more than 60 years of accumulated silt and vegetation, the pond is now part of a system designed to alleviate serious flooding that can occur during major storms.

Fully aware of Charlie's iconic standing in the community, base project planners and engineers went to great lengths to avoid any harm to Charlie or his pond. However, Charlie's old underground den was a victim of "progress" and had to go. Alligator dens, normally dug into the banks of creeks and ponds serve as a place of refuge for alligators from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Charlie was already checking out his new den shortly after arriving at his pond.