The Ebb & Flow BLOG

Introducing the Beefield Community Park Project

At the end of 2023, Lowcountry Land Trust successfully protected approximately four acres within the Beefield settlement community on James Island in partnership with local stakeholders and the support of neighborhood residents. The 150-acre neighborhood holds significant historic, cultural, and natural value. It encompasses part of the core area of two Civil War battles—Secessionville and Grimball’s Landing—connecting to the legacy of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Lowcountry Land Trust’s acquisition of these once-threatened four acres not only preserves precious green space but also honors the rich history and heritage of the Beefield settlement community, helping preserve its legacy for generations to come. 

The urgency of this project cannot be overstated. Leading up to this fee-simple purchase by Lowcountry Land Trust in 2023, the four-acre parcel was slated for incompatible residential development, threatening the community and its residents’ way of life. In 2022, however, the foresight and leadership of Beefield’s George Richardson and the Battery Island Drive Neighborhood Association (BIDNA), in partnership with Historic Charleston Foundation, secured the designation of Beefield as a historic district by Charleston County. This milestone paved the way for Mr. Richardson and BIDNA to engage with Lowcountry Land Trust in protecting the property for the creation of the Beefield Community Park, ensuring it becomes and remains a community-owned community space in perpetuity. 

Lowcountry Land Trust’s purchase of the four acres was made possible by funding from the South Carolina Conservation Bank and the Charleston County Greenbelt Program. Additionally, the project received a Confluence Program Grant from The Conservation Alliance, which has allowed Lowcountry Land Trust and BIDNA to hire nationally recognized conservation planning firm Biohabitats to create and implement a comprehensive master plan for the park. The community’s vision for the future Beefield Community Park is to establish a publicly accessible greenspace and gathering place that celebrates native biodiversity, the landscape’s Civil War connections, the expansion of freedom in America, and the community’s Gullah Geechee heritage.

Volunteer efforts will be key to realizing Beefield residents’ desire to transform the four-acre property into a native and interpretive community park. Lowcountry Land Trust volunteers have already begun preparing the site by clearing bamboo, other invasive species, and trash. Their work ensures the entirety of the Confluence Program Grant can be used to fund the creation and implementation of the park master plan. Beyond tangible outcomes, volunteers obtain an education on settlement communities’ significance, fostering a deeper connection to Beefield’s narrative. If you are interested in volunteering at the future park site, contact Lowcountry Land Trust’s Outreach and Events Coordinator, Jennifer Welch, by emailing

Looking ahead, the Beefield Community Park is poised to redefine the conservation landscape by implementing a “buy, protect, support, transfer” community conservation model. This forward-thinking approach, championed by Lowcountry Land Trust’s Community Lands Director Sam Seawell, marks a departure from traditional “buy, protect, sell” conservation methods, emphasizing the preservation of natural gathering spaces and the active support of local communities. With steadfast support from Lowcountry Land Trust and the South Carolina Association for Community and Economic Development (SCACED), Beefield’s Battery Island Drive Neighborhood Association (BIDNA) will be empowered to enhance its independence and capacity, ensuring sustained park stewardship. 

Recent rulings by Charleston County Council further fortify the Beefield community’s future. The imposition of a ten-year moratorium on major subdivisions or planned developments within County-designated historic districts will safeguard the neighborhood’s rich historical legacy. Additionally, Council’s decision to grant an expanded advisory role to its Historic Preservation Commission will ensure ongoing guidance and oversight, reinforcing BIDNA’s responsibility and stewardship of the Beefield Community Park.

George Richardson and the community-led preservation effort to designate Beefield as a historic district were honored this year with Historic Charleston Foundation’s Joseph H. (Peter) McGee Advocacy Award. Lowcountry Land Trust is grateful to have its support recognized as well, in addition to the invaluable support of the South Carolina Conservation Bank and the Charleston County Greenbelt Program. Projects like this cannot be successful without strong partnerships, and we are grateful to the local, state, and national stakeholders who have made it possible. 

Most of all, Lowcountry Land Trust is honored to partner with the Beefield community to realize the vision for the Beefield Community Park. This forever-protected property embodies boundless potential as a dynamic center for community gathering, environmental education, and cultural celebration. Through collaborative planning and inclusive community involvement, the Beefield Community Park will be a shining example of collective action and progressive conservation strategies, poised to inspire and uplift future generations.