Shem Creek’s Wando dock up for sale, one of last for area shrimp boats

Post and Courier
By Bo Peterson

MOUNT PLEASANT — One of Shem Creek’s last remaining shrimp boat docks is quietly up for sale. The loss of the Wando dock could be the tipping point for the vanishing fleet in the creek made famous by its hanging nets.

The property holding the former Wando Seafood Company at the lip of the creek is being privately shopped and has bidders, several sources confirmed to The Post and Courier. The owner and the real estate company did not want to comment when asked.

The East Cooper Land Trust is launching a frantic fundraising drive to buy and preserve the dock for the shrinking shrimping fleet. But the cost is steep.

Today, Shem Creek has become a mix of upscale residences, waterfront restaurants and water sports businesses, one by one edging out the shrimp boats. The shrimpers and the trust worry that whoever buys the Wando dock will want to redevelop it for that new market.

Losing it could mean those boats would have nowhere else to tie off, much less sell their shrimp. It also could put more development pressure on the owners of the other two.

The loss would leave only the tiny Geechie Seafood dock and the Simmons Marina for shrimpers, as well as a town-built dock that many shrimpers say they can’t afford. James “Bubba” Simmons already has put his property up for sale once before pulling back. Simmons could not be reached for comment Friday.

The trust is seeking partners to bid on the Wando property. Director Catherine Main would say only that the price is in the millions. The trust would put a conservation easement on it and likely turn it over to a partner to run, she said.

“Our interest is to keep the seafood industry there into the future. The shrimpers can’t afford to pay the money to buy it,” she said. “It’s the first industry there was in Mount Pleasant. It made Mount Pleasant. In the blink of an eye, it could be gone.”

Tarvin Seafood leases the property month to month, said co-owner Cindy Tarvin.

“It’s no secret that everybody (in Shem Creek) is leasing month-to-month and everybody worries about dock space no matter where they tie up,” she said. “We’re hopeful (the Wando sale) works out to everyone’s advantage, no matter what happens.”

Commercial fishing docks are disappearing across the state because of development pressures on the lucrative waterfront properties.

The dock space is critical for offloading, fueling, taking on ice and provisions, and conducting general maintenance, said Julie Davis, the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium living marine resources specialist who has studied the issue.

“Shrimp boats are not something you can put on a trailer and carry with you, so the need for dock space is essential,” she said. “Whether we were in Murrell’s Inlet, Shem Creek, Port Royal or McClellanville, this is the story we heard.”

The trust also is part of a McClellanville group hoping to negotiate land trusts for that town’s iconic shrimp docks.

“This isn’t just an issue for Shem Creek,” Main said. “This is an issue for the state of South Carolina.”

The trust has approached several groups for support with the Wando dock purchase, including the town of Mount Pleasant. Town Council discussed it in closed session earlier this week, but the town has neither a process or designated funding to buy properties such as the dock, said Finance Committee Chairman Tom O’Rourke.

The Finance Committee is scheduled to discuss creating such a process next month, he added.

“I can promise you the Wando dock is not the only parcel of land the town has been approached to purchase. Personally, I think every one we have in front of us has merit,” O’Rourke said. “Buying land is a tool toward accomplishing a lot of the goals we have for our town. But we’re not there today.”

OpEd – Psst, do you want to know a secret?

Moultrie News
By Judy Dunbar

You are cordially invited to visit the “secret” Butterfly Garden tucked away next to Mount Pleasant’s Marsh View Trail, which is part of 57 acres permanently protected via a conservation easement held by East Cooper Land Trust. It’s located down a winding road between the Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) on 1619 Rifle Range Rd. and behind the Whitesides Elementary School. Although the habitat is somewhat hidden, the trip is well worth the effort since it also includes a dog park, a canopy of old oaks, Wax Myrtles, Long Leaf Pines and Yaupon Hollies. Plus, a quarter-mile paved path leads you to an expansive view of the marsh and salt flats. So, bring along your best friend and the two of you (or more) will enjoy nature at its finest.

During the spring of 2012, East Cooper Land Trust partnered with several local groups and individuals, including famed Lowcountry author Mary Alice Monroe, to create a beautiful Butterfly Garden at the beginning of the Marsh View Trail. The goal was to not only attract butterflies to the area but provide a learning opportunity for those interested in butterflies and their habitat. Through example, their goal continues to focus on how specific native plants can be used for hosting (laying eggs) or feeding (providing nectar) butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. All agree that support for our little pollinator friends is important for survival.

Since January 2017, care for the garden has been initiated by friends and family of Jackie Ashbaugh, plus Master Gardeners. Meeting most Wednesday mornings, the like-minded volunteers get together to identify existing plants, introduce new ones, prune bushes, and contain those that spread, along with the continuous digging and raking. Weeds had been an enormous problem, particularly since butterflies can’t tolerate chemical control. Newspapers, cardboard and mulch were put down to cover those areas to remediate the problem – with great success. Volunteers have also powerwashed the benches and arbors, painted the Information Board and supplied laminated information cards about southeastern birds and butterflies. Along with their time, contributions included spring bulbs, and Canna Lilies, Society Garlic, Yarrow, and Echinacea divisions, plus Mexican sunflowers from their own gardens to enhance the environment. Future hopes consist of developing a compost area and adding native grasses and plants to add protection for our pollinators on a year-round basis.

Support for the garden comes from a variety of sources. MPW supplies our water (drip lines were replaced with more efficient low-pressure irrigation heads) and hauls away our debris on an as needed basis. Mount Pleasant Tree Service provided free mulch for our pathway. Both the Native Plant Society and the Master Gardener’s Board contributed much appreciated funds in the form of grants.

As well as providing a refuge to our pollinator friends, people ranging in age from the very young to the elderly enjoy the garden. Whitesides Elementary School students, having observed the metamorphosis of Monarchs in their classroom, come to the habitat for the final stage to watch as the chrysalides split open, butterflies emerge, dry, harden and spread their wings before flying away. Another day, a Brownie Troop created basking rocks for the pollinators. Later, families arrived for a tour and left with Milkweed to plant in their own gardens. And finally, it’s been rewarding to watch seniors saunter through this natural setting. Future endeavors include The Butterfly Fling, sponsored by the East Cooper Land Trust, to be held in October.

As you can see, there’s no excuse for you (and your friends) not to visit this little oasis and enjoy one of Mount Pleasant’s best-kept secrets.

– Host Plants – Parsley, Fennel, Dill, Milkweed, Willow, Passion Vine, Yellow Senna, Carrot, Pipe vine, Spice Bush, Snap Dragon, Verbena and Asters

– Nectar Plants – Pentas, Lantana, Vitex, Plumbago, Echinacea, Salvia, Butterfly Bush, Coreopsis, Zinnias, Dianthus, Gaura and Mexican sunflowers

East Cooper Land Trust holds 4th annual Meeting for Mayors Council on Land Conservation

Moultrie News
Highlighting how all the municipalities in East Cooper are connected by nature and the growing demand by citizens to safely access those natural spaces, East Cooper Land Trust held the 4th annual meeting for the Mayors Council on Land Conservation in the new Mount Pleasant Town Hall on April 24th. Rut Leland, Mayor of McClellanville, reflected, “It’s great to see the municipalities working together to conserve land, and more specifically those lands that protect our local food economy.”

As these communities continue to grow and see the effects of increased development, people increasingly look to their elected leaders to protect the wildlife habitats, scenic vistas, cultural points of interest and local food sources in and around their communities. Public awareness over environmental issues, such as living shorelines, stormwater issues and the importance of trees and buffers, is growing. Municipalities are searching for answers but sometimes need to partner with other organizations for the most effective solutions. Catherine Main, Executive Director of East Cooper Land Trust says, “We want to work with the mayors to make conservation decisions lasting. Municipal decisions can be adjusted with a new administration. As a non-profit land trust, we have the ability to hold conservation easements on land that make conservation decisions permanent.”

East Cooper Land Trust has been working on important initiatives, with support from the municipalities, such as the East Cooper Trail which will connect the Cooper to the Santee river through safe walking and biking trails. The land trust cannot do their work without the support of the municipalities, but in turn the organization provides important tools to support the municipalities in park and trail planning as well as cultural preservation. This annual gathering is a great venue for the mayors to participate in meaningful conversation and healthy competition regarding how they can continue to support conservation for the benefit of their residents.

This year Michael Messner spoke to the group of mayors and planning staff about his experience promoting green spaces. Mike and his wife, Jenny, founded the Speedwell Foundation, which takes a vision for beauty, for enhancing common life by connecting people with nature and with each other, and strategically plants it. The Messners have supported East Cooper Land Trust and invested in other area greenspace projects since moving here in 2011, such as the Lowcountry LowLine.

After citing several examples of cities investing in their green spaces and sharing data from research in Houston, Atlanta and other places, Messner commented, “No one ever looked back and said to themselves, I’m so glad I built that highway. But people do say – I’m so glad I got that park built. It’s a legacy that has some great long-term benefits for the community – kids, families, everybody.”

Originally formed in 2015 by East Cooper Land Trust, the Mayors Council on Land Conservation in East Cooper includes Mayor Jimmy Carroll of the City of Isle of Palms, Mayor Miriam Green of the Town of Awendaw, Mayor Will Haynie of the Town of Mount Pleasant, Mayor Rut Leland of the Town of McClellanville, Mayor Pat O’Neil of the Town of Sullivan’s Island, Chairman Vic Rawl of Charleston County Council and Mayor John Tecklenburg of the City of Charleston. This year’s meeting was sponsored by MUSC Health.

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.

Source: Moultrie News

OpEd – East Cooper Land Trust – Stewards of the land

Moultrie News

By Daniel Shaughnessy

Protecting the local environment and quality of life in the community were top issues for voters during the recent elections throughout the Lowcountry. As our communities continue to grow and the rate of development increases, more and more people continue to look to their elected leaders to protect the wildlife habitats and scenic vistas emblematic of the region. While the growing public awareness over environmental issues in our community is welcome, searching for solutions from the local government alone may not yield the best results. Instead, we should also focus our resources and attention to where some of the most effective environmental solutions are born: local conservation charities and the commercial market.

An excellent example of how private organizations are helping the environment in our community is the recent lease agreement and partnership between East Cooper Land Trust (ECLT) and Johnson Family Farms at Thornhill Farm in McClellanville. ECLT, an independent non-profit organization, works with the community to conserve land between the Cooper and Santee Rivers. ECLT originally purchased the idyllic 94-acre farm in 2014 and protected the land forever through a conservation easement. Establishing the conservation easement on the farm alone is a giant environmental step forward. The easement kept the land from falling into developers’ hands and created an opportunity for a new farmer to move close to a major U.S. city, where farmland is most difficult to access.

Now, ECLT has leased the site to Johnson Family Farms. Owners Scott and Tina Johnson recently moved from a successful farm in Indiana to be near family and to live in a scenic community that is passionate about local foods. Now that ECLT has secured a steward for the land, there is an even greater opportunity for a positive impact on the environment. This is because good conservation comes from active management, not neglect. Not only will the active farming of the site enhance the beauty and landscape in the community, but the type of sustainable farming methods used by Johnson Family Farms have also been shown to enhance wildlife biodiversity. Johnson Family Farms’ active management of the site has started, as they have already moved chickens, Angus cattle, and Berkshire pigs onto the property. Additionally, the farm is developed and zoned as a wedding and event space with an open-air barn, bonfire pit and other amenities. Soon, the farm will grow vegetables and have an on-site store, allowing customers in the community to go straight to the source for a truly fresh grocery shopping experience. Ultimately, the Johnson family hopes to establish a truly modern environmental farm with the installation of two hydroponic greenhouses. Most conservationists now agree that hydroponic indoor farming is a key component of environmental protection. Namely, it uses as little land as possible to grow crops and make energy, thereby saving more land for nature.

Because of the environmental strides taken by ECLT and Johnson Family Farms, providing your support to organizations like these is an easy and direct way to make a positive impact today. Donations made to ECLT between now and Giving Day, May 1, will be matched by the Speedwell Foundation up to $20,000. At the least, anyone who was passionate about environmental issues during last fall’s elections should consider directing that same energy toward a local conservation charity or farm. If you are interested in learning more about East Cooper Land Trust check out eastcooperland.org. And, of course, if you would like to welcome the Johnsons to the community, you can find them selling their farm goods at McClellanville Land & Sea Market, Mount Pleasant Farmers Market and Sullivan’s Island Farmers Market.

Annual Race and Roast this Sunday

Moultrie News

On Sunday, March 18, the public is invited to an Oyster Roast hosted by East Cooper Land Trust on the historic lawn of Oakland Plantation from 1-4 pm. All-inclusive tickets to the event include music by Hans Wenzel and the Eighty Sixers, all-you-can-eat oysters, chili, hot dogs, local beer, hay rides, kid activities and more. Runners can come early for a 5K Trail Run that starts at 12:30 pm. The run will begin and finish under the avenue of oaks that line the main drive to this private plantation and will wind through the forest in the 132-acre easement held by East Cooper Land Trust. New this year is a 12-and-under Fun Run.

Funds raised from this event support the local land conservation efforts of East Cooper Land Trust, a non-profit, non-political organization working to conserve urban, suburban and rural parcels of land and connect people to nature via green spaces and trails.

This fun, family-friendly event is being sponsored by the following: Butler Family Foundation and South State Bank as well as Baldwin & Associates, Buist, Byars & Taylor, Doe Hall Creek Timber Company, KOA Campground, Lucey Mortgage Corporation, Seamon Whiteside + Associates, Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co., MUSC Health, and Whole Foods.

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.

Visit eastcooperland.org to learn more.

Happy hours with a green twist to resume in 2018

The Post and Courier
By David Quick

The metropolitan Charleston area has dozens of environmentally focused nonprofits and businesses, though arguably few collaborate because they end up working within their own silos.

Starting this month, an effort to revive Green Drinks, monthly happy hours with an environmental twist, seeks to be a thread connecting organizations in their complementary efforts to foster a more sustainable, healthier community.

Carolee Williams, the Lowcountry field director for the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, decided to kick-start Charleston’s long-inactive chapter after attending a Green Drinks event in Beaufort, which drew about 100 people.

“It was powerful,” Williams recalled of the event featuring drinks and a short talk by a speaker. “It inspired me to see what we could do in Charleston.”

The first Green Drinks Charleston event in the new year will feature East Cooper Land Trust’s board member Sarah Hays and be held 5:30-7 p.m. Jan. 16 at Water’s Edge, located on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant.

Green Drinks will be held at the same time every third Tuesday of the month at different locations around the Charleston area. Due to Thanksgiving, the Green Drinks Charleston event in November will be held on the second Tuesday of the month.

Green Drinks is far from being new, especially from an international standpoint.

Its origins are traced back to a North London pub, the Slug and Lettuce, in 1989 when green designers and their friends pulled some tables together and started talking about environmental matters. It grew organically, of course, over the next decade until the concept of Green Drinks hit the web in 2000.

Hundreds of chapters exist across the globe, though some listed on the website are inactive. None listed in South Carolina, other than Beaufort, appear to have been active in 2017.

Paul Nurnberg, founder and steering committee member of Greendrinks Beaufort, said the gatherings, which always feature a speaker, draw between 60 and 130 people every month. The meetings are held 5:30-7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at various locations around Beaufort. Speakers usually start at 6:15 p.m. and talk for 10 to 20 minutes.

Nurnberg said he started one in Beaufort in 2008 after going to a Green Drinks event in Savannah that drew more than 200 people. However, the Savannah events didn’t feature a speaker and attendance eventually dropped off. The last one he attended there had about 25 people.

So he’s a believer in making the events topical.

In Charleston, Williams and the other Green Drinks committee members have already mapped out monthly meetings through February 2019, designating the gatherings to an array of local groups dedicated to sustainability, conservation and health.

Some of the other organizations and initiatives lined up with specific months include Plastic Free Lowcountry, the Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Aquarium, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, the Charleston chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and the Sustainability Institute.

East Cooper Land Trust Executive Director Catherine Main said the Green Drinks effort could foster collaboration, noting that “Everybody’s mission is different, but I think there’s room for working together.”

Katie Zimmerman, executive director of Charleston Moves, said the need to come together as a community on a regular basis is important because the groups and businesses are working on so many initiatives that “no one knows everything.”

She pointed to the fact that Plastic Free Lowcountry initiative came about a result that several groups were working on a campaign to curb the amount of plastic ending up in waterways, even though they were working on different aspects of it. The Coastal Conservation League was working on policy, Charleston Waterkeeper on water quality, the Aquarium was working on education and the impact on sea turtles, and Surfrider was doing litter pick-ups.

The collaboration, Zimmerman added, has resulted in an array of successes, from plastic bag bans to the #StrawlessSummer initiative. Building the network between groups can lead to more joint efforts.

“All of these groups are working toward the good of the community. Every group is focused on making it, or keeping it, a wonderful place for wildlife, people, natural resources and health,” she said, adding that most environmental progress is happening at the local level in the United States these days.

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.

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