Boeing Corporation’s mitigation plan is a good example of what conservation and business can accomplish when working together. Lowcountry Open Land Trust Executive Director Elizabeth Hagood says, “The plan brings together significant economic and natural resources goals that benefit everyone.” The Cooper River Corridor and Francis Marion National Forest have been priorities of the conservation community for the past 20 years, specifically the Keystone and Fairlawn tracts. Boeing’s mitigation plan protects 1677 acres of Keystone, 1530 acres of the first Fairlawn tract and 695 acres of the second Fairlawn tract. The ability to preserve the three properties as proposed by Boeing Corporation represents a comprehensive strategy that will stabilize this particularly threatened area of the broader Cooper River region. Hagood believes, “This partnership is a true collaboration of industry, private conservation groups and public agencies, and a major victory for all citizens in protecting our unique quality of life and one of South Carolina’s most important landscapes.”
Protecting the East Cooper River corridor, a prominent feature of the Cooper-Ashley-Wando-Stono Basin, is significant. The area is a remarkably intact, public-private, historic and cultural landscape containing archaeological features from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The 30,020-acre Cooper River Historic District encompasses both branches of the Cooper River, including privately owned historic rice fields and plantations, industrial corporations including BP and Nucor Steel, both of whom steward significant forestland surrounding their core industrial sites and own approximately 16 miles of river frontage. Other protected lands include a stunningly beautiful monastery, Mepkin Abbey, and Bonneau Ferry (owned by SC DNR) and the Francis Marion National Forest. The historic Cooper River Corridor has become a model of cooperation and compatibility among diverse landowners—private, public and industrial. Boeing’s contribution to the protection of the corridor through its mitigation project exemplifies the shared values and commitment of the Cooper River partners. The Land Trust is honored to be a part of this historic conservation success story and to further our mission to nurture and protect our landscapes that are the Soul of the Lowcountry.
Protecting our natural legacy has always been the core function of the Land Trust. Almost three years ago during our community conservation visioning process, the community clearly told the Land Trust that the future of the Lowcountry depended on conservation and business interests working together not fighting each other. The Boeing/Land Trust partnership is a perfect example of how economic and conservation collaboration can yield mutually beneficial solutions for South Carolina. Furthermore, Boeing’s corporate leadership has shown us how a commitment to community stewardship and conservation can enhance economic outcomes. Hagood commends Boeing’s corporate leadership and collaborative approach, “It is in the best interest of employers, our communities and our natural resources for business and conservation interests to work together around mutual goals.“