Moultrie News By Sully Witte
The East Cooper Land Trust is doing everything possible to pool together enough resources from the community to purchase the Wando Dock, according to executive director Catherine Main. The trust’s mission is to enhance and save the communities natural and scenic character and they’ll need local donations to support their efforts for this acquisition and efforts to save the fishing community, farms, Gullah communities, and natural areas.
Save Shem Creek Corp. (SSCC), however will not be supporting these initial efforts. Jimmy Bagwell, officer and spokesman for SSCC explained to the Moultrie News that he cannot commit SSCC to raising any amount until the East Cooper Land trust can get an agreement with the property owners to purchase the property. He said if that happens he would recommend to the board that they do everything possible to help the ECLT reach the goal. “Until they have an agreement with the sellers, we will not ask people to contribute financially,” Bagwell said. “I couldn’t commit to raising $1 million. That had to be a board effort.”
Although the SSCC website acknowledges that the fleet faces some long-term issues that need to be addressed and solved, “namely dock space, a source of ice on the creek, and a processing and storage facility” Bagwell said proposing an offer the buy the Wando Docks on Shem Creek was the land trust’s initiative.
“We are not in that business. Our mission is to help educate the pubic about certain events and whats going on in town. We can’t ask people for money unless we know what details and know whats going to be done,” he said.
“No one more than save Shem Creek wants to see this property retained for use by the seafood industry.” Bagwell added that he personally spoke to the Tarvin Family that Runs Tarvin’s seafood out of the facility and relayed to them that SSCC was very much interested in this property staying in seafood industry and not in any other direction.
In the meantime, Mount Pleasant Mayor will Haynie has met with Main to put their heads together to see what can be done. “We are not casual observers of this, but the law does not allow us to donate taxpayer funds to a non-profit so that they can own property,” he explained.
“The protection of the shrimping fleet on Shem creek was mentioned specifically in my first State of Town Address in June. As for the Wando Shrimp Dock in particular, that is someone’s private property an the timing an amount of any sale is solely within their purview and their right. The town in a reactive mode on that one parcel at this point,” Haynie said. “After having spent in the neighborhood of $10 million across the creek to help provide dockage for the shrimp boats and access for the public, we’d like the public to know our past actions show our commitment to the shrimping fleet and to Shem Creek and at this point it is a council decision as to what we can do and how we can do that in regards to this particular shrimp dock.”
Main said the trust understands the seller and the associated trust are looking at all of their options. “If they choose to accept our offer then the land will be forever protected for use by the seafood industry. As opposed to protection from zoning, which can be changed, a conservation easement permanently protects land,” she said. “They deserve to get a fair market price for the land and I want to make sure they know we respect that.”
This is one of three parcels remaining for the seafood industry on Shem Creek and it is the largest and most promising for sustaining our local access to seafood.
Wando Dock project timeline
East Cooper Land Trust began following the project in 2015
April 26, 2018 – met with listing agent and was informed property was for sale
May 4, 2018 – met with Mayor Haynie in his office to discuss the importance of this property, the urgency, and request that the town be a partner and contributor.
May 10, 2018 – met with Jimmy Bagwell, the head of Save Shem Creek in his office to discuss the importance of this property, the urgency, and request that Save Shem Creek be a partner and contributor.
• The East Cooper land Trust is actively working on application submittals for the SC Conservation Bank and the Charleston County Greenbelt Program and have made a good offer to the sellers.
• The sellers are ready to sell and are considering a number of offers.
• We are moving forward with or without a commitment from the Town or Save Shem Creek.
• This project is very important to the fishing community, the Mount Pleasant community, and the state of South Carolina as a whole as our access to local seafood.
• There are only 9 working waterfronts left in the state and most are struggling. Shem Creek is one of the largest producing local seafood.
• Yes, we are in the middle of a slow shrimping season, but The DNR assures us that there are plenty of fish in the sea.
• With some support from the community and permanent access to land, the Seafood Industry can be revitalized.
In 1981, the state’s office of Ocean and Costal Resource Management and the town co-wrote a Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) for the protection of Shem Creek. It was written eight years before the Boatyard was developed as a residential neighborhood. It is a planning initiative to protect water-dependant uses on Shem Creek, which is what the Wando dock and facilities are. But the plan also allows for and protects special exceptions that are not water dependant, like a dock or pier over the water so restaurants can serve food.
The 1981 management plan was developed to recognize the shrimp fleet and the commercial fishing industry as being a resource of statewide significance that is deserving of a guarantee of space within which to effectively operate and, if need be, to expand.
The SAMP sought to preserve these commercial fishing facilities, and to create a Marine Industrial District ‘to develop and reserve land and waterfront locations for industries and services which are dependent on a waterfront location.’
“We want to permanently protect land for use for the fishing industry. The fishermen for years have not known from month to month whether they will have a place to keep their boat. Fishermen will know they will always have a place to be able to use,” Main said.
Justin Craig, chairman of the Board of the East Cooper Land Trust, said “Our local seafood industry and your access to local seafood both rely on places like the Wando Dock on Shem Creek, places that are under pressure from development and the explosive growth we are all experiencing here in Mount Pleasant. Do you believe our local seafood industry can compete financially with these competing development interests? Are you OK with losing your access to local seafood? If your answer is no, please support the East Cooper Land Trust in our effort to purchase the Wando Dock so we can permanently protect our local seafood industry and give them the security to invest in their business. Only our community and your support can ensure access to local seafood, now and forever.”
http://eastcooperland.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Catherine-Main.jpg234350ECLT/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ECLT-logo.pngECLT2018-07-26 19:24:122018-07-26 19:41:20EC Land Trust raising money to buy shrimp dock
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Who we are
East Cooper Land Trust is a community-supported organization devoted to conserving land to benefit people and the environment both now and forever.