It is my pleasure to pick up the mantle of the President’s Log and write to you this week. Last week saw a turning point for LLT as the staff moved into their next phase of pandemic response. Some began returning to the office, following social distancing guidelines, and stewardship staff made plans to return to their fieldwork safely. Our entire team met in person for the first time since mid-March. It was an immense pleasure to see everyone’s faces without the intermediary of a computer screen for the first time in three months.
As a staff, and as a community, we also began to grapple seriously with the inequities that persist in and continue to plague our city, our region, and our nation. Our collective history in the Lowcountry is rooted in and bound to the landscapes we protect and these stories cannot help but shape our present. They need not determine our future, though. Together, we can create a conservation ethic that is inclusive, equitable, and relevant to all.
During this complex, challenging, and unsettling time in our history, we also learned that some things remain constant, including you, loyal LLT supporters. Thanks to your generosity, we exceeded our stretch goal to raise $100,000 for Lowcountry land and water protection during our May Giving Challenge! With your help, we raised $113,550 last month, including our generous matching gifts from the Pathfinder Foundation and the Painted Bunting Fund. On behalf of the rest of LLT’s Staff, I thank you! We are incredibly grateful for your unfailing support. You have risen to the challenge once again to be stewards of our magnificent landscapes, even in tumultuous times.
Chief Advancement Officer
Lowcountry Land Trust
PS: A word from all LLT staff members: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYWuUvV-lqQ
Monday, June 1st: LLT’s Operations Team set up the office to welcome back some staff members, with COVID-19 safety measures in place, during the first phase of our return-to-work plan. LLT’s office now has a rigorous cleaning schedule, new protocols, and lots of communicating loudly across the hall. Never the team to rest on its laurels, the Operations Team began work on a revised hurricane preparedness plan (‘tis the season!). Have you reviewed your plan yet?
Chief Conservation Officer David Ray participated on a Zoom panel hosted by Together SC, along with the Coastal Community Foundation, the SC Grantmakers Network, and United Way of SC of four nonprofit leaders and Congressman Joe Cunningham. More than 200 participants joined for a conversation with nonprofit, community and philanthropic leaders about the issues our state faces related to COVID-19 and racial equity.
Tuesday, June 2nd: North Coast Project Manager Ashton Lamb met with the Black Scenic River Advisory Council for an outdoor, socially-distanced meeting near Kingstree, SC. There they discussed the final draft of a Black Scenic River Management Plan. The plan will act as a guide to educate local government officials, conservation groups, and the public about the cultural, historic, and natural resources that exist on the river. The plan also discusses recommendations on its implementation. Stay tuned for more details!
Wednesday, June 3rd: Members of our intrepid Stewardship Team, Sam Seawell, Alison Cercy, and Maggie Gardner, completed removal of barbed wire fencing at LLT’s Ashem property. The entire Stewardship Team also received final approval to resume in-person monitoring site visits (while taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19). Monitoring will begin as soon as this week.
David Ray participated along with representatives of several forest management and industrial companies in a carbon project information exchange with Chandler Van Voorhis from C2I/GreenTrees. This meeting centered on discussion of the potential for a pilot carbon project in South Carolina’s Lowcountry that could enable landowners to realize income from carbon sequestration in their standing timber.
Thursday, June 4th: LLT’s GIS & Conservation Planning Manager, Carl Taylor, participated in a “Conservation Solutions for Effective Field Operations” webinar to learn more about new tools for effectively coordinating field staff, monitoring remotely, and integrating datasets into easily understood dashboards to optimize monitoring plans.
Friday, June 5th: LLT’s Senior Leadership Team met for the first time in person since early March, albeit in a socially-distanced way seated under a large, shady crape myrtle tree.
In Other News
2019 Project Spotlight: The 2.8 million-acre Savannah River Basin provides drinking water for 1.5 million people in South Carolina and Georgia. As you can imagine, protecting a watershed this size takes a village. Together, LLT, the City of Savannah, the Savannah River Clean Water Fund, the SC Conservation Bank, and the Longleaf Alliance are proud to have collaborated on the permanent protection of 288 acres along the Savannah River, known as “Big Snooks.” Big Snooks’ easement is the first ever conservation easement funded through the Savannah River Clean Water Fund, a collaborative whose goal is to protect water quality through land management and protection. Read on to learn more about this remarkable project.
Growing Environmental and Conservation Leaders of Color: Two LLT staff members have been participating, along with colleagues from North and South Carolina, in a series of calls related to building leadership in conservation among people of color. There were more than 50 participants in the most recent Zoom call in May. This is a larger initiative happening across the nation showing that people of color are changing the face of leadership in conservation.
Happy “Herp” Hunting: We are lucky to have a number of reptiles and amphibians that call the Lowcountry home and as it gets warmer, you have likely spotted one. Whether a green anole (lizard) or a black racer (snake), there is plenty to see and keep an eye out for on our socially distanced walks. Reptiles and amphibians are commonly called “herps,” short for herpetofauna. Read on to learn more about local “herps.”
Pandemic Pivot: Mike Switzer with “South Carolina Business Review” on South Carolina Public Radio interviews Chris Bernat, co-founder of Vapor Apparel in Hanahan, SC (an LLT Flourish Council Member), as part of a series that highlights local businesses pivoting to participate in the making of products needed in this pandemic.
[As we enter the long, hot days of summer, the President’s Log will feature a series of rotating guest writers, including LLT staff and board, as well as friends of Lowcountry Land Trust]