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Angel Oak Preserve

Angel Oak Preserve

The Angel Oak is an iconic, ancient tree in the heart of Johns Island. It has inspired the humans that live in its shade across cultures and generations. Thanks to a group of dedicated activists and community members, as of 2013, it’s protected forever.

Lowcountry Land Trust is trusted with the 35-acre property surrounding the City of Charleston 9-acre park. The land was purchased with funds from individuals and organizations with the promise that it would be conserved and open to the public.

After nearly a decade of community outreach, Lowcountry Land Trust stands ready to fulfill this promise. Guided by a Steering Committee of community leaders and stakeholders, Lowcountry Land Trust has engaged Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects to design a comprehensive plan.

To stay updated on the Angel Oak Preserve, and to share your stories, please sign up for our newsletter: Angel Oak Newsletter

We’re hoping to gather as much community input as possible for this project. Please, take a few minutes to complete our survey: Angel Oak Preserve Survey

Angel Oak Effect

In 2008, the Angel Oak was almost lost to history, but the community rallied to protect the forest and wetlands that support her and ensure a robust ecosystem. It is because of that community movement, the Angel Oak Effect, that we have the privilege to conserve the land forever and the opportunity to enhance the ecosystem that supports this amazing tree.

Lowcountry Land Trust’s Angel Oak Effect program was named in honor of the grassroots community effort that came together to save the Angel Oak through the conservation of the surrounding land. Community conservation like this is what ensures that the places and landmarks we hold sacred are protected in the face of the pressures of development.

Angel Oak History

The Angel Oak on Johns Island is estimated to be between 400 and 1000 years old. While we will never know its age for sure, the sheer size of the magnificent live oak has made it an icon of the Lowcountry for centuries and a gathering place long before Europeans ever stepped foot on this continent. Forever a treasured landmark, it now draws upwards of 400,000 visitors per year.

Native Americans once settled in her shade, using the Angel Oak as a ceremonial meeting place. Its land has also been a plantation, a freedman’s village, the site of the Johns Island Agricultural Hall, an important landmark in the Civil Rights movement, and a place where all could rest under her sprawling branches.

The sea islands, particularly Johns and Wadmalaw Islands, boast breathtaking landscapes, abundant natural forests and marshes, and scores of wildlife species. Dating back generations, farmers and rural families have relied on the natural environment for food, income, and wellbeing. As more residents have and continue to develop their own relationship to the Angel Oak, it has become the symbol and embodiment of South Carolina’s Lowcountry and sea islands culture.

In an interview in 1980, famous Civil Rights Activist Septima Poinsette Clark said:

“From the early days, Black people told their children stories about that tree. It was sacred, and it is sacred to them. Segregation was at its height, but the tree was not segregated, and in the springtime to have some kind of recreation program for the children, we could take a lunch and go to the Angel Oak tree.”