CHARLESTON, SC – A gathering of school children, business owners, elected officials, faith leaders and others joined the Lowcountry Open Land Trust (LOLT) today, to mark the ceremonial real estate closing on 17 acres of rural lands adjacent to the Angel Oak.
“Today’s ceremony marks the extraordinary spirit with which this community tackled a big challenge,” said Elizabeth Hagood, LOLT Executive Director. “Not only have you rallied to purchase this initial tract of land, you’ve provided enough funding to begin the process of planning and designing the Angel Oak Preserve. Your generosity ensures future generations will experience this tree.”
In mid-July, LOLT launched a community fundraising campaign to help raise $3.6 million and secure 17 acres of rural forestland on Johns Island. By the beginning of November, contributions from corporations, local businesses, non-profits, land bank grants and an estimated 10,000 individuals exceeded $4 million.
With the land now secured, LOLT will work with community partners (including Charleston County Parks and Recreation) to develop a low-impact land plan that mixes public access with long-term conservation needs. Educational programming is likely, and the park will be integrated with the local community to improve access.
At today’s ceremony, students of Haut Gap Elementary presented Hagood with proceeds from their school vegetable garden. Throughout the fall, the children sold collard greens for $1; all their proceeds are now going toward the new parkland.
The LOLT has also set its sights on the potential purchase of a second 17-acre tract adjacent to the first. Currently held by a developer and scheduled for multi-family housing, the tract could provide an additional buffer for the tree and support protective forestlands critical for its health.
“We remain committed to this project, and to all endeavors that advance the public’s desire to protect our iconic Lowcountry landscapes and habitats,” said Hagood. “We are hopeful that 2014 will bring more good news for the Angel Oak Preserve.”
About the Lowcountry Open Land Trust:
The Lowcountry Open Land Trust is a local, 501(c)(3) land conservation organization whose mission is to honor the relationship between people and land by protecting irreplaceable Lowcountrylands. The Land Trust is driven by a shared understanding that if we fail to protect these treasured lands, we will not get them back - and something even more important in our culture, economy and environment will also be lost, forever. The Land Trust works in partnership with other conservation and community organizations to promote conservation of the Lowcountry of South Carolina.