Greetings from my home office!
Like all of you, I am still adjusting to a new daily routine. I share a workspace with my three children, where I look around and see their drawings, crafts, math worksheets, and writing assignments. It’s a sweet, tender scene when we’re all absorbed in our work and the room is quiet. That lasts about 15 minutes. And then, when I can tell everyone is getting restless, I send them outside. I am incredibly grateful to be able to send my children outdoors for fresh air and sunshine—much needed therapy during the new reality of quarantine.
As we journey through this unprecedented experience in our collective lifetime, I want to share with you Lowcountry Land Trust’s journey as well. This is the first of what we are calling the “President’s Log,” a weekly summary of what the land trust has been up to, inspired by those who have faced emergent times or journeys and have chronicled their experiences.
Below is an update that covers the last several weeks. Going forward, each update will be a weekly log. Enjoy! And, please, let us know if you want to know more about any of this work.
I wish you continued good health!
President & CEO
Lowcountry Land Trust
March 20th: Lowcountry Land Trust signed an option to purchase nearly 1,000 acres with 3.5 miles of frontage on the Savannah River in Jasper County. This property is a high priority for landscape-scale conservation and connectivity, as well as water quality. More to come as this project matures!
March 31st-April 1st: Lowcountry Land Trust and our partners at Upstate Forever joined forces for Land Trust Alliance’s annual Advocacy Days. While we did not literally “fly-in” for meetings with Members of Congress, we flew in virtually through phone calls and Zoom meetings. We spoke with staff from Representative Ralph Norman (SC 5th District), Representative Jeff Duncan (SC 3rd District), Senator Tim Scott, and Senator Lindsay Graham’s offices. And, we got to speak directly to Representative William Timmons (SC 4th District). We thanked each member for their support of COVID-19 relief measures, and spoke to them about supporting critical, bipartisan conservation related policy that is important to South Carolina, including:
i) The Charitable Conservation Easement Integrity Act (H.R.1992/S.170)
ii) The Great American Outdoors Act (S.3422)
David Ray, LLT Chief Conservation Officer, participates in the virtual Advocacy Days
March 31st: LLT and Holy City Brewing collaborated on our first ever virtual SOUL Sessions called “Ask Me Anything.” Chris Brown with Holy City Brewing and I each spoke about how the pandemic is affecting our work and our daily operations, and how we can be supportive of one another. I took it upon myself to visit Holy City’s new facility on Filbin Creek in North Charleston and bought a variety 6-pack of their delicious brew, carefully assembled and safely handed to me through their pick up window. My favorite is the Sparkly Princess!
SOUL Sessions: Ask Me Anything with Chris Brown from Holy City Brewing
April 3rd: LLT submitted its application for a Small Business Administration loan through the recently enacted CARES Act with Bank of South Carolina. We received word on April 16th that our loan was approved! It is our highest priority to preserve our talented professional staff here at LLT, and this forgivable loan will enable us to do just that.
April 14th: LLT hosted a Zoom call with its Business Leadership Council with Representative Joe Cunningham (SC 1st District) as our special guest. We heard from our business partners about how their companies are responding and adapting to COVID-19. Representative Cunningham discussed his work on the CARES Act and other COVID-19 legislation that is assisting small businesses and individuals across the country and in South Carolina. The Congressman also spoke highly of the conservation policies being considered in DC right now—the Charitable Conservation Easement Integrity Act and the Great American Outdoors Act (see above bill references).
A screenshot from the Business Leadership Council Zoom call with Representative Joe Cunningham (SC 1st District)
Ongoing: I have weekly calls with members of the Land Trust Alliance Leadership Council (55 Executive Directors of leading land trusts across the country) regarding the pandemic and its impact on operations, fundraising, and conservation. We also discuss solutions to overcome the challenges and share ideas and lessons learned.
Ongoing: My team and I are regularly checking in with our landowners, former Board members, and financial supporters. It has been a joy to speak to our greatest champions, and to thank them for their past and continued support. I am pleased to report that so far, everyone with whom I have spoken is doing well and staying healthy!
Ongoing: Our Conservation Team is working through an impressive list of projects across all of our priority landscapes. The projects total approximately 3,000 acres, not including the aforementioned option we signed on the 1,000 acres in Jasper County. We are keeping conservation of land and water at the forefront of all that we do! More to come.