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