Auldbrass Plantation Tour Volunteers
The Wright Stuff
When visitors from all over the world arrive at Auldbrass Plantation for tours, virtually every personal interaction from the time they step out of their vehicle until the time they get back into their vehicle is with an Auldbrass volunteer. The golf cart drivers, the check-in assistants, every docent and main house guide and many others all chose to give generously of their time, skills and knowledge to welcome these visitors through the Auldbrass gate and to make each person’s visit as rewarding as possible. These volunteers are the faces and voices of the Auldbrass experience, and it is only through the support of this dedicated army of volunteers that the Open Land Trust is able to offer public tours of Auldbrass Plantation.
This year the mighty team serving as 2017’s Auldbrass Volunteer Coordinators was Donna Dehncke and Mary Savage, also volunteers. These friends share a strong commitment to supporting the Land Trust in its biennial fundraising endeavor, and offered to manage this intensive human resource effort last spring. Their complementary skillsets united to manage this project – Donna’s management and logistical skills (Mary calls her the “spreadsheet guru”) added to Mary’s firsthand familiarity of Auldbrass gained while accompanying her mother, renowned garden designer, Frances Parker to work at the Auldbrass garden.
"Why did I volunteer?
It makes me feel like part of the community"
Planning this volunteer effort is complex, to say the least. Twenty-nine different volunteer positions must be filled, depending upon a volunteer’s particular experience, expertise or qualifications. Positions include main house tour guides, docents stationed at 16 separate locations on the property (with corresponding docent notes), check in assistants, merchandise cashiers, and golf cart drivers. A morning shift and an afternoon shift is scheduled for each tour day, each shift requiring 55 volunteers. By September a total of 220 volunteer shifts were scheduled for November 4-5. However - in the midst of that task, Donna and Mary were presented with an unexpected challenge - an additional weekend of tours – leading to a mad scramble to fill the additional 220 volunteer shifts required for November 11-12.
Our local community responded immediately to the need, volunteering to welcome visitors to Auldbrass with Southern hospitality, local history and culture. While the first weekend included a number of longtime volunteers that travelled from out-of-state, the second weekend’s volunteer force was comprised primarily of members from our community. A mixture of first-timers and old hands, the volunteers brought enthusiasm and energy to their Auldbrass work shifts. Their reasons for volunteering are many, including “the opportunity to experience FLW’s fascinating body of work” (Jane Ford), “It is enthralling to see his beautiful work up close” (Dorothy Shaphorst) and “It’s fun to meet people and find out where they come from” (Charlene and Jim Schufelt).
Auldbrass Plantation tours help to support the Open Land Trust’s work to further land conservation in our region and supports the local economy by attracting a significant number of overnight visitors. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Donna and Mary for their dedication, hard work and unwavering support of OLT, and to each and every one of the volunteers that participated in this collective community experience to share FLW’s legacy in the Lowcountry with the world.
to JOEL SILVER
Beaufort County Open Land Trust wishes to express gratitude to Mr. Joel Silver for his immeasurable generosity since purchasing Auldbrass Plantation approximately 30 years ago. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939, the Auldbrass Plantation buildings, consisting of the main house, kennels, stables, barn and various outbuildings, were constructed by the late C. Leigh Stevens who called on Wright to design a self-sufficient modern plantation for farming, hunting and entertaining. Stevens owned Auldbrass until his death in 1962, when it passed on to his daughter, Jessica Stevens Loring. After several subsequent owners, the plantation was purchased by Mr. Silver, a long-time admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright. Silver’s work includes, but is not limited to, constructing parts of Wright’s plan which were not realized when the plantation was originally built, so that for the first time in its history, Auldbrass is architecturally complete, thus fulfilling Wright’s and Stevens’ dream and making Auldbrass a great architectural treasure.
The success of Beaufort County Open Land Trust, to provide leadership in protecting and preserving open space in the Lowcountry, can be directly attributed to this rare opportunity to host tours of Auldbrass … a brilliant example of Mr. Wright’s ability to combine his interpretation of a southern plantation while keeping with his theories of organic architecture … to be in harmony with the landscape of which it is part. Constructed of native cypress boards laid diagonally at 80 degree angles and held by brass screws, the exterior is intended to conform to the lean of indigenous live oak trees, while the abstract forms of ornamental rainspouts suggest hanging clumps of Spanish moss. Since 1989, Beaufort County Open Land Trust has benefitted from what has now evolved into a most successful biennial fundraiser weekend, with tickets selling out within hours of placing them on sale. Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts arrive from all over the United States to participate in this event.
Thank you, Mr. Silver, for allowing so many to experience Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius. Thank you for being such a generous member of our community.
OFFSHORE DRILLING IN SOUTH CAROLINA
- In April 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at opening the Atlantic to offshore oil and gas exploration, directing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to review regulations and permitting for seismic air gun blasting and offshore drilling leases.
- The South Carolina House established an ad hoc committee to look into the matter and make recommendations, although the final decision rests with the federal government.
- On November 28, at the committee’s last public hearing before the Legislature convenes, a number of prominent mayors and elected municipal leaders, including City of Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling testified in opposition to seismic testing, offshore drilling and development of onshore oil facilities.
WHAT’S AT RISK:
- South Carolina’s environment and thriving tourism industry with its annual economic impact exceeding $20 billion.
- Between 1964 and 2015, BOEM estimates that approximately 5.2 million barrels of oil have been spilled during offshore drilling operations in U.S. waters – an average of over 80,000 gallons of oil spilled every week for 51 years. An oil spill of any size would be devastating to South Carolina’s tourism and agriculture based economy, particularly in coastal communities.
"What city, what beach, what town
are you willing to destroy?"
-Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin testifying
before the ad hoc committee on November 28
ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF LAND CONSERVATION REPORT TO BE PRESENTED TO COUNTY COUNCIL
On January 22, 2018, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Open Land Trust will present the results of a highly anticipated analysis and report documenting “The Economic Benefits of Parks, Trails and Conserved Open Spaces in Beaufort County” to Beaufort County Council. TPL’s Conservation Economics team, with extensive national experience in measuring the economic benefits and fiscal impacts of land conservation, collaborated with OLT to research these benefits in Beaufort County in 2017, including the benefits resulting from properties protected through the Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program. These quantitative analyses show how land protection enhances property values, attracts visitors to the county, provides recreational opportunities, boosts economic development and provide valuable ecosystem services such as stormwater infiltration and air pollution reduction, among other benefits.
As a strong supporter of land conservation, please join us at the Beaufort County Council meeting on January 22 for this important presentation. This report reinforces the importance of OLT’s past and continuing work, and confirms that land conservation is a vital component in our healthy, flourishing community.
Land Trust Accreditation
At a time of political change, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1971 Beaufort County Open Land Trust has been doing just that for the people of the Lowcountry. And, since 2016, it has been doing so as an accredited land trust. Today we are proud to welcome an additional 17 land trusts into the growing network of accredited land trusts across the nation that have proven their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work. Almost 20 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas vital to healthy communities are now permanently conserved by an accredited land trust.
Barbara G. Holmes
Attorney Barbara Holmes joined the Open Land Trust as Director of Land Protection in July 2017. She administers Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program and works with land owners, partners and stake holders to identify easement or fee acquisition priorities and opportunities for the Trust. She gained a passion for land conservation while serving as staff attorney for Lowcountry Land Trust in Charleston from 2008 to 2017. In her spare time she is a dedicated volunteer at the Avian Conservation Center in Awendaw, SC.
Farewell to Lisa Lord
We were sorry to say farewell to Lisa Lord in May but we wish her the best in her exciting new endeavors. Lisa is pursuing her second Master’s degree (Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, Clemson University) and is working fulltime for The Longleaf Alliance coordinating its red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise projects in SC. Her job also includes working with landowners in wildlife and natural resources management and conservation easement projects associated with the Savannah River Clean Water Fund. In addition, Lisa is also the recently- elected President of the South Carolina Native Plant Society. Lisa worked as OLT’s Director of Conservation and R & C Program Coordinator for 5 years, bringing passionate energy to her work and assisting as OLT went through the LTA Accreditation process. In 2015, Lisa represented OLT at the LTA Rally, co-presenting a workshop about OLT’s work leading the public education campaign for the successful 2014 Rural and Critical Land Program’s bond referendum. This case study was cited as a model for local conservation funding campaigns and for effective advocacy by land trusts. Lisa was a tremendous asset to our organization, and we are glad that she is continuing her valuable contributions to Lowcountry conservation.
Rural & Critical Land Preservation Program
FOUR CRITICAL PARCELS PURCHASED IN 2017
“ When residents approve Rural and Critical Land bonds, this is the type of project they support. The biggest return on this investment is the generations of people who will make memories at this park for years to come.”
PAIGE POINT CEMETERY contains a .82-acre African-American cemetery that has been active since 1855. This parcel is 1.83 acres in northern Beaufort County and is bounded on one side by the marshes of Huspah Creek. A recent plat showed the existence of 45 graves on the tract; however it is likely the tract contains additional graves that have not been identified. Although it was a significant archeological, cultural and historic site and was identified in the County’s 1997 Above Ground Historic Resources Survey, the cemetery was under threat of destruction. The purchase of this parcel with RCLPP funds ensures ownership and management stability for the site, laying the groundwork for further archeological research on this historic cemetery.
The purchase of the .85-acre parcel on Boundary Street where the TIGER MART EXPRESS was located moves the City, the County and the Open Land Trust one step closer to the City of Beaufort’s long-planned seven-acre linear park along Battery Creek. Our organizations are working together to improve the scenic vista on this primary entrance into the City of Beaufort, and to date, five properties have been purchased and the existing buildings have been or will be removed to provide greenspace and views of Battery Creek.
The 1.9-acre LITTLE POINT PARCEL, adjacent to County-owned Pinckney Point Preserve, was purchased to add value to and protect the entrance to the Preserve. Long-term protection of the Pinckney Colony Road corridor has been a successful undertaking for the program, with RCLPP funds being used to purchase Pinckney Colony Park, Pinckney Point Preserve and a conservation easement on Calhoun Plantation. The purchase of Little Point also continues to protect the conservation values of the Okatie and Colleton Rivers which are socially, economically, and environmentally important waterways, including water quality and scenic views.
Beaufort County and The Town of Bluffton partnered to purchase the SQUIRE POPE CARRIAGE HOUSE, built circa 1850. The property, on the river adjacent to the Calhoun Street Public Dock and across the street from Church of the Cross, is both historically and culturally significant. The House is one of the few structures in the Bluffton Historic District to survive the 1863 “Burning of Bluffton” by the Union Army during the Civil War. Future plans for the property involve converting it into a passive park to provide additional public access to the May River for residents and visitors. The Town also expects to rehabilitate the Squire Pope Carriage House similar to what it has done to rehabilitate the Garvin House at nearby Oyster Factory Park. As Lisa Lord explains, “When residents approve Rural and Critical Land bonds, this is the type of project they support. The biggest return on this investment is the generations of people who will make memories at this park for years to come.”
SOUTH CAROLINA CONSERVATION BANK AT RISK
- The South Carolina Conservation Bank (SCCB) will sunset in 2018 if the General Assembly doesn’t take action to renew it.
- Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered an investigation of the Bank, questioning how it operates and spends money.
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
- The Bank is South Carolina’s most important state tool for land conservation.
- Nearly 300,000 acres of forests, wetlands, historic sites, farms, and urban parks have been protected in bargain sale transactions by the Bank since 2002.
- The Bank is South Carolina’s last line of defense against development that threatens the natural resources and special places that fuel the state’s natural resource-based economy.
- Land conservation is essential to protecting South Carolina’s clean air and water for the long term.
Marguerite Broz, John M. Trask Jr., Betty Waskiewicz
Trish Irwin - President
Garrett Wreden - Vice President
Beek Webb - Secretary
Einar Trosdal - Treasurer
Patricia Anne Denkler, Alison Guilloud, Hampton Long, Dean Moss,
Katie Phifer, Alex Shuford,
Denise Sullivan, John Trask III
Cindy Baysden - Executive Director
Barbara Holmes, Director of Land Protection
Debbie Quirin - Administrative Assistant
A Gentle Reminder
Perhaps our membership letter went astray. We know you believe in our mission because you have supported us in the past. Your annual membership is critical to the success of our organization. PLEASE JOIN OR RENEW TODAY AT WWW.OPENLANDTRUST.ORG.
Please provide us with your most current contact information including email address. Send to: email@example.com
Letter from the Executive Director
BCOLT Proud Part of Growing Network
At a time of political change, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1971, BCOLT has been doing that for the people of the Lowcountry. And since February, 2016 it has been doing so as an accredited land trust. Today, BCOLT is proud to welcome an additional 15 land trusts into the growing network of accredited land trusts across the nation that have proven their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work.
Accreditation demonstrates BCOLT’s commitment to permanent land conservation in Beaufort County and the surrounding area. We are a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program. Our strength means special places such as Lemon Island and Factory Creek Park will be protected forever, making Beaufort County an even greater place for us and our children.
BCOLT 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 BCOLT’s land will be protected forever. Almost 20 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas vital to healthy communities in the U.S. are now permanently conserved by accredited land trusts.
BCOLT was founded over 45 years ago by concerned citizens who wanted to protect the scenic open vistas that are so special to Beaufort. To date we have protected over 23,000 acres of land that includes farmland and family lands in the Lowcountry. We have also partnered with the City of Beaufort and Beaufort County to create parks such as Battery Creek Park on Boundary Street between Applebee’s and Battery Saxon Park.
“Accredited land trusts such as BCOLT are united behind strong ethical standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever,” says Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Accreditation Commission. This network of 1,363 land trusts across the United States has demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship. We thank you, our faithful members, for supporting BCOLT as we continue our work to preserve the Lowcountry landscape!
Birds of Prey
We thank Board Member Alison Guilloud and her husband, veterinarian Dr. Mark Guilloud for arranging a “Birds of Prey” demonstration for new Open Land Trust members at the athletic field at Beaufort Academy on March 25th.
The mission of the Birds of Prey Center in Awendaw is to identify and address vital environmental issues by providing medical care to injured birds of prey and shorebirds, and through educational research and conservation initiatives.
Bird of prey or predatory bird, also known as raptors, refers to several species of birds that hunt and feed on rodents and other small animals. The term raptor is derived from the Latin word rapere, meaning to seize or take by force.
Blueberries Look for delicious Coosaw Farms blueberries at our local grocery markets!
“As growers, we look at
our native soil and climate
patterns to plant crops that
compliment the natural
thousands of years ago.”
The Open Land Trust holds a conservation easement on 149 acres on St. Helena Island owned by Bradley O’Neal of Coosaw Farms. The easement ensures that the land will never be developed but will continue to be used for agriculture. At the present time the fields are planted in blueberries. Angela O’Neal of Coosaw Farms has written the following about growing blueberries:
As growers, we look at our native soil and climate patterns to plant crops that compliment the natural environment established thousands of years ago. On St. Helena Island we have found perfection for growing Southern Highbush blueberries. The acreage is on an insulated peninsula surrounded by meandering tidal creeks, thick black pluff mud and ancient marsh. The area has its own microclimate, often averaging 6 to 10 degrees warmer than our main farm in Fairfax, South Carolina (an hour inland). This additional warmth translates into a natural protection from cold weather during bloom, pollination and fruit set.
The second ideal condition is the soil. There are rare pockets of a spodic sand called Leon strung along the Carolina Bays and coastlines of north Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Leon is the most ideal soil type for growing Southern Highbush blueberries and is unique only to this specific variety. Rabbiteye for example, cannot tolerate Leon series soil.
The genius of Leon is in its three layers working in symphony for the Southern Highbush plant. The dark speckled sandy topsoil is naturally very high in organic matter. The second layer is a gray/white sand that allows optimal drainage. Oxygen is able to quickly reenter the root zone after watering. Leon’s third layer, a chocolate hard pan, slows drainage so plants maintain a stable moisture level without drying. Sustainability is fully optimized with the air, soil and water on St. Helena Island. The warm microclimate protects the blueberries from frost in most seasons. The soil composition allows optimal growing without excessive watering. Recognizing this extraordinary convergence of elements, we’re enabling nature to cultivate an exceptional blueberry at Coosaw Farms.
New Board Members
DEAN MOSS is the former General Manager of the Beaufort Jasper Water and Sewer Authority. He retired in 2011 after holding that position for 25 years. He has previously served as a member of the South Carolina Water Law Review Committee and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the national Water Research Foundation. He is the Governor’s appointee to and Chairman of the Savannah River Maritime Commission. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Port Royal Sound Foundation. Dean has a long history with the Open Land Trust having served as its President for over six years in the past. We are happy to welcome him back to the Board.
KATIE CUPPIA PHIFER grew up in Beaufort and settled back in the Lowcountry after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. Katie is a Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Planner with the Bezilla Kinney Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. As a native of Beaufort, it has always been important to Katie to give back to her home town. In addition to joining the Board of OLT she has volunteered with the Junior Service League of Beaufort, Thumbs Up, and the United Way of the Lowcountry. She and her husband, Matt, have a daughter and in her spare time Katie enjoys spending time with family on the river and at the beach.
DENISE SULLIVAN retired from the commercial printing business in Maryland and moved to Beaufort with her husband in 2009. She spent most of her adult life in Anderson, SC where she was Vice President and Director of Advertising and Marketing, Publisher of the Oconee Leader and Shopping Guide. She has been very involved in her community on Dataw Island having served, most recently, as President of the Dataw Island Owners Association. She is also a member of the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Commission and Vice Chair of the Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Denise and her husband have four children and five grandchildren. OLT is pleased that she is bringing her business experience to the Finance Committee.
The Burris Family donated a bargain sale conservation easement on a 563.4 acre portion of their property Cypress Bay, known as the GopherWoods tract.The Burris’s purchased the original 95-acre Cypress Bay tract in 1986. Since that time, they have purchased over 2,500 contiguous acres, most of which have been placed in conservation easements with the Beaufort County Open Land Trust. The property is nationally recognized for exceptional forestry, wildlife management and conservation. Gopher Woods is excellently managed as a working forest, wildlife habitat, and an outdoor recreational property. The property is located within the Lower Coosawhatchie River watershed in Hampton County.
Edwin and Sue Olsen generously donated a 10-acre conservation easement on a portion of their Okatie River property. The remaining 109 acres were purchased through the Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program, protecting a grand total of 119 acres from commercial and residential development. The property contains mature mixed-hardwood pine forest, maritime forest, and salt marsh that provides abundant habitat for many important species of wildlife including bald eagles, osprey, wading birds, and migratory songbirds. This unique property with over 11,000 linear feet of frontage on the Okatie River and Malind Creek, is the origination site for one of the headwaters of the Okatie River. The conservation of the Olsen’s land will continue to protect the water quality of the Okatie River into the future.
As the holder of conservation easements, one of our responsibilities is annual monitoring and inspection of the property subject to the easement. Currently we have a contract with Glenn Stanford, who owns Conservation Consulting Company, to conduct these inspections. Glenn, a resident of Beaufort County since 2006, is a retired lawyer who moved to the Lowcountry, fell in love with the area and started a new career. He became part of the team charged with finding land in the County that fit the goals of the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands program. In that role he contacted landowners, negotiated terms of the proposed easements, drafted terms of the easements, and helped bring them to closing. Glenn is already familiar with quite a few of our properties since many of the easements held by the Open Land Trust came from the County program. Conservation Consulting Company is now inspecting our conservation easements to assure compliance and continued protection of the land.
The Open Land Trust welcomed Dr. Rodell Lawrence, Executive Director of Penn Center, as speaker at the 46th Annual Meeting. Dr. Lawrence announced that Penn Center is a part of the new Reconstruction Era National Monument that was established as a unit of the National Park Service by Presidential Proclamation on January 12, 2017 in recognition of the role Beaufort County played in shaping the historic period of Reconstruction. The national monument protects and interprets historic buildings and landscapes in Beaufort, St. Helena Island and Port Royal. Dr. Lawrence plans to shape Penn Center’s future by setting a framework for its sustainability; preserving the unique history, culture and environment of the Sea Islands and by sharing Penn Center’s resources locally, nationally and internationally.