A Delicate Balance
Constructing a Conservation Culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
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Table of Contents
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List of Illustrations
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When Hurricane Hugo battered coastal South Carolina through the night ofSeptember 21, 1989, its winds and waters swept beach houses off foundations,damaged 80 percent of the homes in downtown Charleston, and uprooted oaksthat had survived the Civil War—becoming the costliest storm in U.S. history upAmericans watched on television as tens of thousands of coastal residents dis-...
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I have enjoyed a lifelong love affairwith the low country. My own introductionto the region began at the age of two; our family vacationed each summer atLitchfield Beach and Pawleys Island throughout my childhood. We still do. Overnearly forty years my annual visits to Litchfield Beach and surrounding areasnurtured my curiosity about the coastal region. During those four decades I wit-...
Timeline of Key Conservation Events and Legislation
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...1932 Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge established on 66,267 acres1936 Francis Marion National Forest established on 250,000 acres1956 Sea Pines Plantation (now Sea Pines Resort) established on 1970 Proposal of BASF petrochemical plant near Victoria Bluff denied1971 Beaufort County Open Land Trust established, the first Land Trust...
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At the end of the seventeenth century, John Archdale, the governor of theProvince of Carolina, described the British colony’s southern coastal region as a “fertile and pleasant land.” The “fertile and pleasant” low country has sincebecome a storied and culturally significant place buffeted by ironic under -currents. A history-drenched land whose backwaters remain primeval is also...
One: The Low country Environment—Past and Present
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The South Carolina low country is hard to leave and even harder to define. Itcomprises an irregularly shaped area stretching approximately one hundred fiftymiles along the Atlantic coast from Myrtle Beach southwestward to Hilton HeadIsland and extending some fifty miles inland. The term low country derived fromcomments made by the first Europeans to visit the region in the seventeenth cen-...
Two: The Emergence of a Conservation Culture
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Ever since the first Europeans encountered the low country in the seventeenthcentury, the region has been viewed primarily as a commodity, a “pleasant andfertile” place to be exploited—its lands bought and sold, cleared and cultivated,mined and clear-cut, drained and paved. Unsustainable economic developmentand population growth remained the dominant themes of the low country’s his-...
Three: Leveraged Leadership
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In September 1989, the same month that Hurricane Hugo roared across thelow country, Sierra Club volunteer and former New York City financier DanaBeach founded with his spouse, Virginia, and their friend and fellow bird watcher,Jane Lareau, the Coastal Conservation League (CCL), the first full-time localorganization dedicated to preserv ing—in a comprehensive way—the quality of...
Four: The Primacy of Land and Partnerships
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In a 2010 interview Republican state senator Chip Campsen marveled at the burgeoning grassroots involvement with the culture of conservation in the low -country. A generation before, he noted, there had been only a few scattered in -stances of the citizenry engaging issues of land use and environmental quality.Now, he emphasized, civic conservation was intense, widespread, and effective....
Five: Growing by Choice: Community Planning
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The tiny hamlet of Awendaw,northeast of Mount Pleasant in Charleston County,was devastated by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. No sooner had the storm movednorth than I traveled to help friends who had lost their home. What I found onarrival was heart-wrenching. The storm-ravaged area that included pockets ofextreme poverty was a tragic landscape. Public ser vices were minimal or non -...
Six: Conservation Communities
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Summertime barbecues and picnics are commonplace across the United States,but few of them serve alligator meat. Even less common is a gathering to cele-brate the capture of a rogue alligator found in a residential neighborhood. Dur-ing the summer of 2007 I’On, a new-urbanist community in Mount Pleasant,hosted such a celebration (at the time I owned a house in I’On). The home own-...
Seven: Sustainable Subdivisions, Conservation Communities
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...“Nature is Kiawah Island’s most enduring asset and serves as the defining element of life on Kiawah,” declared Charles P. “Buddy” Darby III, the presidentand chief executive officer of Kiawah Development Partners, in 2004. In tryingto create a better balance between the ill effects of development and the integrityof the environment, self-styled “progressive” developers have sought to work...
Eight: Weaving Tensions into a Cultural Heritage
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It was an incongruous scene. As the sun rose at luxurious Kiawah Island onJuly 12, 2007, thirty African Americans, mostly women, stooped to “pull” (har-vest) long-stemmed blades of sweetgrass, a reedlike coastal plant named for itssweet taste. The harvesters had traveled for more than an hour south from theirhomes near Mount Pleasant, northeast of Charleston, to take advantage of a spe-...
Nine: Conserving AgriCulture
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The concerted efforts to preserve the low country basket-making traditiondemonstrate that the culture of conservation encompasses much more than con-ventional efforts to preserve and protect the natural environment. One of themost endangered elements of the coastal region’s historic way of life is agricul-ture. In recent years South Carolina has been losing about thirty-five acres of...
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On July 16, 2005, the graceful new Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, named for theprominent conservative Republican legislator from Mount Pleasant who hadplayed the primary role in securing government funding for the project, was dedicated after a week-long series of special events and celebrations. The RavenelBridge (also called the Cooper River Bridge), overlooks scenic Charleston Har-...
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Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2013