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A Delicate Balance

Constructing a Conservation Culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry

Angela C. Halfacre

Publication Year: 2013

Sustainability of the natural environment and of our society has become one of the most urgent challenges facing modern Americans. Communities across the country are seeking a viable pattern of growth that promotes prosperity, protects the environment, and preserves the distinctive quality of life and cultural heritage of their regions. The coastal zone of South Carolina is one of the most endangered, culturally complex regions in the state and perhaps in all of the American South. A Delicate Balance examines how a multilayered culture of environmental conservation and sustainable development has emerged in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Angela C. Halfacre, a political scientist, describes how sprawl shock, natural disaster, climate change, and other factors spawned and sustain—but at times also threaten and hinder—the culture of conservation. As Halfacre demonstrates, maintaining the quality of the environment while accommodating residential, commercial, and industrial growth is a balancing act replete with compromises. The book documents the origins, goals, programs, leaders, tactics, and effectiveness of a conservation culture. A Delicate Balance deftly illustrates that a resilient culture of conservation that wields growing influence in the lowcountry has become an important regional model for conservation efforts across the nation. A Delicate Balance also includes a foreword by journalist Cynthia Barnett, author of Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis and Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page

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pp. 3-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5

Dedication Page

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pp. 6-7

Table of Contents

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pp. 8-9

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

When Hurricane Hugo battered coastal South Carolina through the night of September 21, 1989, its winds and waters swept beach houses off foundations, damaged 80 percent of the homes in downtown Charleston, and uprooted oaks that had survived the Civil War—becoming the costliest storm in U.S. history up to that time. ...

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pp. xiii-xvl

I have enjoyed a lifelong love affair with the low country. My own introduction to the region began at the age of two; our family vacationed each summer at Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island throughout my childhood. We still do. Over nearly forty years my annual visits to Litchfield Beach and surrounding areas nurtured my curiosity about the coastal region. During those four decades I witnessed ...

Timeline of Key Conservation Events and Legislation

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pp. xvii-xix

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pp. 1-15

At the end of the seventeenth century, John Archdale, the governor of the Province of Carolina, described the British colony’s southern coastal region as a “fertile and pleasant land.” The “fertile and pleasant” low country has since become a storied and culturally significant place buffeted by ironic under - currents. A history-drenched land whose backwaters remain primeval is also ...

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One: The Low country Environment—Past and Present

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pp. 16-46

The South Carolina lowcountry is hard to leave and even harder to define. It comprises an irregularly shaped area stretching approximately one hundred fifty miles along the Atlantic coast from Myrtle Beach southwestward to Hilton Head Island and extending some fifty miles inland. The term low country derived from comments made by the first Europeans to visit the region in the seventeenth century. ...

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Two: The Emergence of a Conservation Culture

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pp. 47-70

Ever since the first Europeans encountered the low country in the seventeenth century, the region has been viewed primarily as a commodity, a “pleasant and fertile” place to be exploited—its lands bought and sold, cleared and cultivated, mined and clear-cut, drained and paved. Unsustainable economic development and population growth remained the dominant themes of the low country’s history well into the 1980s. During that decade and since, however, an increasingly ...

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Three: Leveraged Leadership

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pp. 71-91

In September 1989, the same month that Hurricane Hugo roared across the low country, Sierra Club volunteer and former New York City financier Dana Beach founded with his spouse, Virginia, and their friend and fellow bird watcher, Jane Lareau, the Coastal Conservation League (CCL), the first full-time local organization dedicated to preserv ing—in a comprehensive way—the quality of the low country environment. The three founders were determined that their ...

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Four: The Primacy of Land and Partnerships

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pp. 92-127

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. “If anyone thinks the public doesn’t demand conservation,” he said, “they need ...

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Five: Growing by Choice: Community Planning

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pp. 128-144

The tiny hamlet of Awendaw, northeast of Mount Pleasant in Charleston County, was devastated by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. No sooner had the storm moved north than I traveled to help friends who had lost their home. What I found on arrival was heart-wrenching. The storm-ravaged area that included pockets of extreme poverty was a tragic landscape. Public ser vices were minimal or non - existent. Yet the mortal immediacy of the situation helped the distraught community ...

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Six: Conservation Communities

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pp. 145-168

Summertime barbecues and picnics are commonplace across the United States, but few of them serve alligator meat. Even less common is a gathering to celebrate the capture of a rogue alligator found in a residential neighborhood. During 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 owners’ association newsletter reported: ...

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Seven: Sustainable Subdivisions, Conservation Communities

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pp. 169-197

“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 president and chief executive officer of Kiawah Development Partners, in 2004. In trying to create a better balance between the ill effects of development and the integrity of the environment, self-styled “progressive” developers have sought to work ...

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Eight: Weaving Tensions into a Cultural Heritage

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pp. 198-218

It was an incongruous scene. As the sun rose at luxurious Kiawah Island on July 12, 2007, thirty African Americans, mostly women, stooped to “pull” (harvest) long-stemmed blades of sweetgrass, a reedlike coastal plant named for its sweet taste. The harvesters had traveled for more than an hour south from their homes near Mount Pleasant, northeast of Charleston, to take advantage of a special ...

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Nine: Conserving AgriCulture

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pp. 219-235

The concerted efforts to preserve the low country basket-making tradition demonstrate that the culture of conservation encompasses much more than conventional efforts to preserve and protect the natural environment. One of the most endangered elements of the coastal region’s historic way of life is agriculture. In recent years South Carolina has been losing about thirty-five acres of ...

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pp. 236-253

On July 16, 2005, the graceful new Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, named for the prominent conservative Republican legislator from Mount Pleasant who had played the primary role in securing government funding for the project, was dedicated after a week-long series of special events and celebrations. The Ravenel Bridge (also called the Cooper River Bridge), overlooks scenic Charleston ...


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pp. 255-288


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pp. 289-328


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pp. 329-346

E-ISBN-13: 9781611172799
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611172782

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2013