Beaufort County lies in the heart of the Port Royal Sound watershed, between over 200,000 acres of protected property along the Savannah River and over 300,000 acres of protected property in the ACE Basin to the north. These landscapes on our edges are protected forever, home to wildlife refuges, public parks, and private lands.
Amid and arguably because of these incredibly protected landscapes, our region remains one of the fastest growing in the state and east coast and we seem to be confronted with the tension between growth and land loss on a daily basis. Area residents are accustomed to rezonings, clearcuts for new neighborhoods, and annexations, and it could be easy to feel defeated, tired or even fearful that our growth challenges will overwhelm our natural resources.
If we grow haphazardly, pushing new residential developments, gated communities, and roads into these wild places, we do so at their peril and ours. If we rest on our laurels and fail to protect additional landscapes, we lose control of incoming growth, lose access to water and the ability to fish, swim and recreate, and lose a connection to a place defined by sweeping marshes and heathy rivers.
At OLT, we’re building a coastal greenbelt to connect landscapes of protected properties, working forests and thriving agricultural fields and to protect our towns. We’re protecting important properties that add to our scenic vistas, visual and physical access to the water and our quality of life. We’re working with partners – landowners, funding programs, elected officials, partner land trusts, smart staff members, and dedicated community supporters – to achieve our goals. Proactive land conservation will help us leapfrog growth headaches seen in our communities and protect our quality of life.