The Ebb & Flow BLOG

Meet the Land Protection Team

Since 1986, Lowcountry Land Trust has assisted hundreds of landowners across the South Carolina Lowcountry in protecting their land through the voluntary use of conservation easements. As a result, tens of thousands of acres are preserved for the benefit of current and future generations while remaining under the ownership and control of private landowners who continue to use and enjoy them.

When appropriate, Lowcountry Land Trust also purchases land to protect it. Examples include the organization’s first project, Alge Island; the 35-acre preserve surrounding Angel Oak Park; lands that eventually become state wildlife management areas; and recreational properties that we purchase, protect with conservation easements, and resell to private parties.

Lowcountry Land Trust works in 17 counties throughout the entire coastal plain of South Carolina. Having protected over 150,000 acres of land since 1986, Lowcountry Land Trust is one of the leading local land trusts in the United States.

With its highly focused mission and many years of experience, backed by dedicated supporters and a substantial stewardship endowment, Lowcountry Land Trust’s Land Protection team is well-equipped to work with landowners in creating conservation easements and safeguarding those easements in perpetuity or in purchasing land when appropriate. Learn more about our land protection team below! 

David Ray is Lowcountry Land Trust’s Chief Conservation Officer. Previously an attorney in government, large firms, and academic settings, he became Lands Program Director for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in 2002. Subsequently, he managed conservation planning and grant-making programs at the Open Space Institute and has led land protection and restoration programs for The Nature Conservancy in the Southern Blue Ridge and Colorado. David holds degrees from Davidson College and the University of Georgia School of Law. During his career, he has played a significant role in over fifty conservation projects on more than 40,000 acres.

As the Rural Land Protection Director, Josh Bell works closely with landowners and our various partners in conservation throughout the Lowcountry to achieve land protection goals. Upon earning his Bachelor of Business Administration from UGA, Josh began his career as a field biologist at a small environmental consulting firm in Savannah. He became intimate with our coastal region’s unique geography and critical ecosystems by working in the field on thousands of acres of land throughout the Lowcountry. Before joining Lowcountry Land Trust, Josh served as the Stewardship Director for the Open Land Trust (formerly Beaufort County Open Land Trust). He gained extensive knowledge of the intricacies of conservation easements and the vital role of dedicated landowners in ensuring that vast areas of our fragile Lowcountry landscape are protected forever. 

Natalie Olson joined the Lowcountry Land Trust in 2021 as the Sea Islands Program Director. She is responsible for pursuing strategies to conserve land on the sea islands, with a special focus on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands. Before joining the Lowcountry Land Trust team, Natalie worked for Conservation Voters of South Carolina, the Coastal Conservation League, and private-sector wetland mitigation banking. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor from the Charleston School of Law.

Sam Seawell is a well-known conservationist in the Lowcountry community, having worked with Lowcountry Land Trust for nearly four years serving as a primary point of contact for landowners, stewarding a portfolio of conservation easements, and playing a vital role in the protection of new land. Sam now strengthens the community through conservation in his role as Community Lands Director. Before working with Lowcountry Land Trust, Sam graduated from The University of the South with a Bachelor of Arts in Environment and Sustainability and worked for several conservation and natural resources organizations throughout the country, such as Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, Trout Unlimited, and the Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative.

Carl Taylor joined the Lowcountry Land Trust team in 2016 and serves as the Geographic Information System (GIS) and Conservation Planning Manager. In this role, Carl creates maps and performs geospatial parcel and ecosystem analyses vital to the completion of conservation easement projects. He also creates landscape-scale conservation plans and tools that support our overall conservation mission in the Lowcountry. He holds a Bachelor of Science from James Madison University and both a Master of Science in Environmental Studies and a Master of Public Administration from the College of Charleston.