East Cooper land deal protects almost 400 acres of salt marsh, small island in Mount Pleasant

The Post and Courier
By David Slade

MOUNT PLEASANT — A land deal involving hundreds of acres of salt marsh and a small island on the north side of the Ben Sawyer causeway has doubled the amount of property protected by the East Cooper Land Trust.

The roughly 5-acre island along the Intracoastal Waterway and Conch Creek can be seen from the Ben Sawyer Bridge, north of Gold Bug Island. Like Gold Bug Island and Toler’s Cover, the island purchased by the East Cooper Land Trust was created years ago by dredge spoils.

“The property owners bought it 49 years ago with the intention of putting a marina there, but they were never able to get the permits,” said Land Trust Director Catherine Main. “Our thought is that we could potentially use it for educational purposes.”

He said the owners of the undeveloped island approached the club years ago, hoping to create a road across the marsh.

The East Cooper Land Trust purchase, Lapierre said, “would put the whole area into conservation.”

The marsh and marsh island acquired by the trust have been owned for decades by the Conch Creek Corp.

“We bought the property 49 years ago hoping to turn it into a marina,” said Robert Ragin, secretary of the corporation, in a statement. “Since that didn’t happen, we are pleased the property is permanently being conserved with the East Cooper Land Trust.”

Along with the marsh, which was privately owned through a King’s Grant, the East Cooper Land Trust deal involves 398 acres. The $238,800 purchase was made possible with a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant in partnership with Duck Unlimited Inc., Main said.

The land trust hopes to use the island to benefit the public, possibly as a site for education and research, kayak access, and protection of bird and fish habitat.

The boundaries of the property extend nearly 3,500 feet along the Ben Sawyer Boulevard causeway, and more than 3,000 feet along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Source: The Post and Courier

Monarch Butterflies on Sullivan’s Island

We were excited to hear from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife representative yesterday that one of our conserved properties, Station 9 on Sullivan’s Island, has maybe the most concentrated Monarch Butterflies they’ve seen in the state. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is tagging and releasing the butterflies to research their travel paths. We invite you to take your family and friends out to Station 9 to go and see these beautiful butterflies!

Catherine, Alison and Alex


Conch Creek islands and marsh conserved by East Cooper Land Trust

Moultrie News
By Daniel Shaughnessy OpEd

Travel along the meandering Conch Creek into the silent heart of the surrounding salt marsh, and there is no telling what impressions nature will reveal to you: the sunrise reflection through the salt myrtle, the guttural roll of a boat-tailed grackle in the morning, an ambrosial tang of pluff mud in the nostrils, or squadrons of dowitchers nesting in the cordgrass. While experiencing the untouched beauty of this land may seem rare, if Ben Sawyer Boulevard is part of your commute, you pass it by every day.

This biodiverse landscape is located north of the Intracoastal Waterway between Ben Sawyer Boulevard and Conch Creek, and it was recently acquired by the East Cooper Land Trust.

The property consists of salt marsh estuarine emergent wetland habitat and associated upland islands within the CAWS Waterfowl Focus area and along the Intracoastal Waterway. It currently provides habitat for breeding, migration, and wintering migratory birds in the coastal zone in South Carolina. Salt marsh is ranked as one of the most biologically productive ecosystems on earth, providing nursery grounds for many species of birds and fish, as well as vital wildlife habitat.

After visiting the site earlier this month, East Cooper Land Trust director Catherine Main commented on the property’s location, “It was striking to see the contrast between this seemingly pristine wildlife habitat and the surrounding urban environment in Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island.” The trust’s stewardship of the property will help ensure the quality of the bird and fish habitat as human infrastructure continues to be built along the surrounding highland. The conservation effort will also maintain the integrity of the wetlands, which help mitigate potential flooding and protect water quality in the area by absorbing sediment runoff.

East Cooper Land Trust’s ownership of the property opens the potential for public benefit along the blueway for kayakers and collaborative educational programs. Another long-term option includes the installation and maintenance of a living shoreline oyster reef and restoration to a more natural state.

“This purchase will help ensure the preservation of the rural character of our coastal community,” Ms. Main said, “which is one of the primary goals of the East Cooper Land Trust.”

Source: Moultrie News

East Cooper Land Trust Joins the Global #GivingTuesday Movement

East Cooper Land Trust has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Occurring this year on November 28, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the US) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

East Cooper Land Trust’s mission is to conserve natural spaces of our community and preserve the quality of life for current and future generations. They are using all of their resources to ensure our community remains a place where you’re proud to live, work and play. They use negotiation and compensation with landowners to achieve conservation. In addition to working with private landowners, they work with developers and municipalities to preserve the natural beauty of our coastal community.

Those who are interested in joining East Cooper Land Trust’s #GivingTuesday initiative can visit eastcooperland.org/donate. For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website givingtuesday.org.

Farm supper raises funds for land conservation

Moultrie News


Fall in the Lowcountry is the perfect time to get outside, enjoy excellent food and music while helping conserve local land.

Join the East Cooper Land Trust (ECLT) at Thornhill Farm in McClellanville for the third annual “Harvest Feast” – a community farm supper for local land conservation – on Thursday, Nov. 9.

In 2014 East Cooper Land Trust acquired Thornhill Farm. This 94-acre farm will forever be agricultural and protected from subdivision. When farms are profitable and farming is valued, it decreases the threat of losing other farms to incompatible development.

For more information and to purchase your all-inclusive tickets, contact East Cooper Land Trust or go to their website at eastcooperland.org. Sponsors for the event include Buist, Byars & Taylor, On Forty-One, Seamon Whiteside & Associates and Stubbs Muldrow Herin architects.

East Cooper Land Trust is a community-supported nonprofit organization devoted to conserving natural spaces, thus the quality of life for current and future generations. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, ECLT has permanently conserved 18 properties and more than 380 acres.

Source: Moultrie News

Trio Solutions selects five nonprofits for free Marketing services during CreateAthon® 2017

Moultrie News

Five non-profit organizations from the Lowcountry have been chosen to be the beneficiaries of free marketing and advertising services provided by Trio Solutions Inc. (TRIO) during its eleventh annual CreateAthon® event. The collaborative, 24-hour creative marathon will take place on Thursday, Oct. 26 until Friday, Oct. 27. at TRIO’s office in Mount Pleasant.

CreateAthon is a 24-hour, pro bono marketing marathon where TRIO provides free services to selected nonprofits. The creative marathon was originally created by RIGGS advertising agency out of Columbia, S.C. in 1997. TRIO has been the official CreateAthon agency for the Lowcountry area since 2006. TRIO received over 25 applications and narrowed it down to five local organizations. The recipients are Carolina Youth Development Center, Charleston Area Senior Citizens Services, East Cooper Land Trust, Lowcountry Food Bank and Saint Frances Animal Center.

TRIO’s team of ten expects to produce between 10 to 15 creative projects for the chosen organizations with an estimated marketing value of more than $50,000. Deliverables produced during the blitz include projects that span all aspects of traditional and digital marketing, such as logo design, print collateral, marketing plans, websites, social media assessments, videos, etc.

To learn more about TRIO’s CreateAthon, visit trio-solutions.com/createathon or contact Lindsey at lindsey@trio-solutions.com.

About CreatAthon®
CreateAthon is a 24-hour pro-bono creative work blitz that TRIO offers each year to area nonprofits. CreateAthon started at RIGGS agency in Columbia in 1998 and has grown into a global effort represented by more than 100 creative agencies around the world. TRIO is proud to be the exclusive CreateAthon agency for the Lowcountry region of South Carolina. Over the years, CreateAthon agencies have given millions of dollars in free services to thousands of awesome causes around the globe.

About Trio Solutions
Trio Solutions Inc. is a full-service marketing communications agency with a philosophy to work hard, enjoy life and make a difference. TRIO specializes in marketing and public relations, event planning, graphic design, and web and social media solutions that increase awareness and strengthen brands. For more information, visit trio-solutions.comfacebook.com/triosolutions and twitter.com/triosolutions.

Source: Moultrie News

Join local bike events next Wed. Oct. 11 as part of the East Coast River Relay

Charleston City Paper


The East Coast Greenway, the nation’s longest connected biking and walking route, celebrates 25 years by hosting a 3,000-mile, 68-day river relay, a series of events held in partnership with local organizations on Wed. Oct. 11. In Charleston, the Greenway Alliance is partnering with Charleston Moves, the East Cooper Land Trust, and Keep Charleston Beautiful, for a day full of bike rides and social hours.

In a statement Brent Buice, South Carolina and Georgia coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance says, “Charleston and Mt. Pleasant are priority corridors of the East Coast Greenway in the Southeast. The Alliance is thrilled to work with such enthusiastic partners in creating safe places to walk and bike in the region.”

Picture this: a bridge filled with bikes! - PROVIDED

  • Provided
  • Picture this: a bridge filled with bikes!

The day starts with a morning bike ride  at 8:30 a.m., departing from the West Ashley Library at 45 Windermere Blvd., and crossing the Legare Bridge to Cannon Park downtown. This ride will be police-escorted because, in case ya missed it, there still isn’t a bike lane connecting downtown and West Ashley.

Join in an evening bike ride at Charleston Waterfront Park at 5:30 p.m., which takes the Ravenel Bridge bike path Patriots Point and ends at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina for a social hour, or start at White Point Garden at 6 p.m., ride across Memorial Bridge (again, with a police escort), and join fellow cyclists at Mellow Mushroom Avondale.

You can also participate in a litter sweep of the West Ashley Greenway which convenes on the greenway behind Starbucks (6 Windermere Blvd.) at 6 p.m.

Source: Charleston City Paper

East Cooper Land Trust Earns National Recognition

Moultrie News

At a time of political change, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 2002, East Cooper Land Trust has been doing just that for the people of East Cooper. Now East Cooper Land Trust announced it has achieved national recognition – joining a network of only 389 accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work.

“We are proud to be recognized as one of the top land trusts in the country and are excited to celebrate this award with our community,” said executive director Catherine Main. “We will continue our work to permanently conserve natural spaces in East Cooper, making it an even greater place for us and our children.”

East Cooper Land Trust had to provide extensive documentation and undergo a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation application. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that East Cooper Land Trust’s property will be protected forever. Almost 20 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas vital to healthy communities are now permanently conserved by an accredited land trust.

East Cooper Land Trust has permanently conserved 18 properties to date. Three are adjacent to public schools. Five are community gathering places, including two in Gullah-Geechee neighborhoods. One is a working farm. Each property has its own story and value, be it environmental, cultural or historical.

“It is exciting to recognize East Cooper Land Trust with this distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Accredited land trusts are united behind strong ethical standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever. Accreditation recognizes East Cooper Land Trust has demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

East Cooper Land Trust is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the most recent National Land Trust Census, released Dec. 1, 2016 by the Land Trust Alliance. This comprehensive report also shows that accredited land trusts have made significant achievements.

• Accredited land trusts have steadily grown and now steward almost 80 percent of conservation lands and easements held by all land trusts.

• Accredited land trusts protected five times more land from 2010-15 than land trusts that were not yet accredited.

• Accredited land trusts also have stronger systems and more resources to steward and defend their conservation lands forever.

• As a result, the public’s trust in land conservation has increased helping to win support for federal, state and local conservation funding measures.

A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits are detailed at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About East Cooper Land Trust:

East Cooper Land Trust is a community-supported nonprofit organization devoted to conserving natural spaces, thus the quality of life for current and future generations.

About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission:

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About the Land Trust Alliance:

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. Based in Washington, D.C., and with several regional offices, the Alliance represents about 1,000 member land trusts nationwide. The Alliance’s leadership serves the entire land trust community—our work in the nation’s capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; our education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and our comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities.

Source: Moultrie News

Charleston’s Waterfront Park might see an expansion

Joseph P. Riley Jr. Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston could be expanded, if a hotel developer’s proposal is approved by regulators.

Lowe Enterprises, which plans to build a 225-room luxury hotel at 176 Concord St., requested approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, to fill some wetlands to expand the existing park to its property and to build a public dock and marina in Charleston Harbor.

Waterfront Park, completed in 1990, currently ends at a public pier at Concord Street and Vendue Range. If the proposal is approved, the park would be extended beyond that along the shoreline, and the new pier would abut Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

Waterfront Park, completed in 1990, currently ends at a public pier at Concord Street and Vendue Range. If the proposal is approved, the park would be extended beyond that along the shoreline, and the new pier would abut Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

The proposal is part of the company’s plan for the property, site of the S.C. State Ports Authority’s current headquarters. The city allowed a slightly taller hotel if the developer provided a public amenity of some kind.Work for the proposed park expansion involves placing 8,000 cubic yards of fill material into 0.56 acre of tidal wetlands, according to the Army Corps filing, which Lowe Enterprises submitted under its subsidiary Leucadia Coast Properties LLC.

The proposed new view down Cumberland Street. (Rendering/Provided)

The proposed new view down Cumberland Street. (Rendering/Provided)

About 0.30 acre of tidal wetlands will be temporarily impacted during construction. The proposed dock marina will also shade about 0.25 acres of tidal wetlands and open water. Shade is considered an impact because it could change the way things grow in an area, agency spokesman Sean McBride said.The overall project would extend the public waterfront and walkway and would create another boat access point, the filing said. The marina will be open to any boats that fit, according to Dan Battista of Lowe Enterprises.

For its mitigation plan, the company proposes preserving a 486-acre site within Copahee Sound in Mount Pleasant. That area includes open water, tidal wetlands and forested uplands.

“The applicants propose that the mitigation site property owners retain their ownership under a kings grant while the East Cooper Land Trust serves as the conservation easement holder,” the filing said. “An existing oyster mariculture lease is proposed to continue within the mitigation site, and existing plans to construct a dock and boardwalks within the mitigation site are also proposed.”

The park opening will coincide with the hotel’s opening, which is anticipated for late 2020, Battista said.

Lowe Enterprises bought the port’s office property, as well as the adjacent Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar, in January for $38 million. The restaurant has a lease through 2024.

The port is leasing the downtown site back from Lowe for two years while its new operations site, a $40 million Mount Pleasant space that will more than double its existing footprint, is built.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

Source: Charleston Regional Business Journal

Wheels are in Motion

Mount Pleasant Magazine

It started as a pipe dream: a shady, smooth bike trail winding from Laurel Hill Park, past Boone Hall and Mount Pleasant Towne Centre, all the way to the Ravenel Bridge and into downtown Charleston. Now there is a path to reality for that dream.

As early as this summer, the plans could be set and the gears turning for a new pedestrian trail along the stretch of Highway 17 flanked by Laurel Hill Park and Oakland Plantation. The Oakland Pipeline Trail will literally lay the groundwork for an East Cooper Trail stretching from Sullivan’s Island to the Ravenel Bridge.

“This would be the first big project of this type that we’ve done,” said Clay Duffie, general manager of Mount Pleasant Waterworks, which provided the impetus for the project.

The Oakland Pipeline Trail gets its name from the pipeline beneath it, which is the real reason a trail is now on the table. MPWW is upgrading pipes along Highway 17 as part of a capital improvement plan, and construction inevitably involves clearing space above ground. Trees play a big role here, because laws require a company that clears ground either to re-plant trees or pay the Tree Abatement Fund. But there is a third option, and that is how the Oakland Pipeline Trail was born.

The Oakland Pipeline Trail is named for the pipeline below

“We like leaving things better than we found them,” Duffie remarked.“If we can leave something behind that the public wants, we’ll be happy to do that,” said Duffie, explaining why MPWW chose to create a public recreational area on the land above its project. Rather than pay tree abatement costs, MPWW elected to use the money to build a public use area for the community.

Building a mile-long pathway in addition to the pipeline will take more than MPWW money, though. The planned trail is a collaborative effort, bolstered by Charleston’s growing community of bike advocates, Mount Pleasant’s elected officials, the Coastal Conservation League and the East Cooper Land Trust.

“We did propose the idea earlier, but it didn’t get any traction with the town,” said Duffie. “After the easement got cleared, they thought, ‘That’s a great place for a trail.’ So it got resurrected.”

While MPWW created the reason for the trail, East Cooper Land Trust has taken the project under its wing. Not only did the Land Trust commit to raising $150,000 by the end of 2017 to match MPWW’s contribution, it also will be a driving force behind the legal proceedings and gaining public support.

“The project has the support of Charleston Moves, Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, the East Coast Greenway and Berkeley-Charleston- Dorchester Council of Governments,” said Catherine Main, executive director of East Cooper Land Trust. “But community support will be the most important piece.”

Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page gave her approval and the plan received an outpouring of public support at a Waterworks meeting in early March.

“They said, ‘Great, if this is what you guys want to do, sounds excellent,’” said Jason Crowley, a land use project manager with the Coastal Conservation League. “There is good effort being made to bring more biking into transportation infrastructure, but there is a lot we need to do still.”

“It’s a work in progress,” as Duffie put it. While he is committed fully to MPWW’s part of the project, he knows that the Oakland Pipeline Trail is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

“I hope interested citizens will recognize this and step up to the plate,” Main agreed.

They should, according to Katie Zimmerman, the new director of Charleston Moves, because it is a trail for everyone.

“It [the Pipeline Trail] will serve not only people with all types of bikes but also people who want to walk or run safely in the area,” she said. “It is a viable beginning to what could be a very promising connection for outer Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.”

This dream reaches far beyond Mount Pleasant. Even the East Cooper Trail is only one piece of the larger plan for a bike trail through all of Charleston and, eventually, an interconnected East Coast Greenway. But that is a daunting task, and it’s easy to get caught up in the politics. So what will it take to bike from Sullivan’s Island to downtown Charleston, or even Avondale?

“Success depends on two things,” said Zimmerman: “adding to the path as opportunities arise, making connections further and further until the route extends both to the beaches and to downtown Charleston.” She added that the second thing is maintaining what is built, which requires funding from organizations and government, as well as public support.

“It’s a little bit of politics. But it is also educating and re-educating the public about these types of transportation alternatives,” said Crowley, who rides his bike to work every day. Another longtime bike advocate, Citadel professor Don Sparks, uses the analogy of freeways: “These projects should be thought of as part of the transportation network, not a recreational add-on or afterthought.”

Stopping at just one mile of trail, he said, “would be like building two miles of interstate and being upset because no one is using it.”

“They think, ‘no one will use it,’” Crowley added.

“That’s what they said about the Ravenel Bridge. You’ve probably never seen a day along the Ravenel Bridge without a pedestrian.”

It’s undeniable that Charleston is breaking ground to accommodate the rising population, but what we place on top of the construction scars will make the real difference.

“Every time we get a section of section bike and pedestrian path or trail or street, we are making things safer, more connected and, frankly, we are making transportation a bit more enjoyable,” said Zimmerman.

“It’s going to take commitment and work from elected officials, citizens and interested groups to ensure it happens,” she added. “It’ll be worth it”

By Enid Spitz

Source: Mount Pleasant Magazine

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