The Ebb & Flow

President’s Log: September 8, 2020

Dear Friends,

I don’t know about y’all, but the anticipation of fall and cooler weather always seems to consume me this time of year. As a passionate outdoorsman and hunter, around late August I stop thinking about boat rides and beaches and start dreaming of frosty cold mornings, rutting whitetail buck deer, and the whistle of wood ducks whizzing overhead. Of course the customary kick-off to fall hunting fun began this past weekend with the opening of dove season. No, it was not frosty cold. Yes, it was brutally hot—but for many of us, the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, meet new ones, and shoot a few doves to throw on the grill far outweighs the drag of having to endure the relentless Lowcountry heat and humidity.

Annual traditions centered around hunting camps, campfires, and the pursuit of wild game have played a profound role in shaping me into the conservationist I am today. My love for the land and for the Lowcountry itself was born in the Savannah River swamp stalking wild hogs and playing cat and mouse with gobbling toms. It’s hard to describe with words, but being in those big woods, combined with the camaraderie and fellowship back at the camp, cast some sort of magic spell over me that continues to live inside of my bones today. Surely some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. [Side note—spending several summers working as a dock hand at Bohicket Marina and the associated antics required also had a significant influence on me and solidified my deep connection to the Lowcountry and her landscape and people. I’ll save that story for another day.]

In my territory alone, which spans from the Edisto River to the Savannah River and contains both the famed ACE Basin Focus Area and the South Lowcountry (SOLO) Focus Area, there are over 150,000 acres of publicly accessible prime hunting grounds. They’re comprised mainly of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wildlife management areas and federally owned and managed national wildlife refuges. If you don’t know about them, just “Google it.” Clearly, the excuse of “I have no place to hunt” is chicken scratch.

We’re also incredibly lucky in the south coast to have an extraordinarily strong conservation ethic when it comes to private land preservation via conservation easements—thanks largely to visionary, forward thinking landowners and conservationists who proactively started the movement in the ACE Basin back in the late 1980s. The wisdom, leadership, and commitment of those pioneers in Lowcountry land conservation cannot be understated. Fortunately for us, several of them are still around and continue to lead the charge today. I feel privileged and honored to now be a part of that group.

Since those early days, a total of 430,000 acres of private lands, many of which are traditional hunting grounds for the families that own them, have been conserved forever within my two focus areas. Lowcountry Land Trust protects over 102,000 of those acres. Yes, those numbers are impressive, but we are far from done. Between last year and so far this year, LLT has protected an additional 4,072 acres in the ACE and SOLO and we’re poised to protect another couple thousand before the end of the year. Even knowing I have a mountain of work ahead of me to finish off this year, I’m already looking forward to what next year has in store… and the next… and the next…

It’s up to us to keep our hunting traditions alive. It’s also up to us to ensure the places we love to hunt and gather are preserved for the next generation. So, if the notion strikes you, find a kid, grab your gun, and go hunting. And don’t take for granted what we are so lucky to have—it could easily be paved over tomorrow if left unprotected. Call me if you have some land that you’d like to conserve forever. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Josh Bell
South Coast Project Manager
Lowcountry Land Trust

Josh and Mr. Joe Hamilton, founder of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), at a dove hunt in the ACE Basin.

Monday, August 31st: Ellen Blake, Executive Assistant and Board Liaison, attended a webinar on advanced features related to the Boardable software. Ellen utilizes this board management software to support activities related to our Board of Trustees.

Tuesday, September 1st: The LLT Conservation Committee met for its bi-monthly meeting to discuss ongoing conservation projects, possible acquisitions, and stewardship activities. We’re happy to report that conservation work has not slowed down and many more conservation easement closings are coming down the pike in 2020.

Wednesday, September 2nd: Carl Taylor, GIS & Conservation Planning Manager, attended the Summerville Ecosystems Workshop. Summerville is working with the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) and local stakeholders to increase their tree canopy coverage. LLT provided input on the GIC model and learned about the various ecosystem services tree canopies provide throughout the city and county, and the amount of benefit they net from those services.

Nathan Moyer, Senior Stewardship Program Manager, monitored three properties along the East Branch of the Cooper River.

Thursday, September 3rd: Ashton Lamb, North Coast Project Manager, and David Ray, Chief Conservation Officer, met with a number of conservation partners for a socially distant conversation regarding important land conservation targets in the greater-McClellanville area.

Friday, September 4th: Helen Rogers, Director of Operations, conducted introductory phone calls with the Communications Coordinator candidates.

OTHER NEWS

A Conservation Investment: Did you know that when you buy a hunting or fishing license, you’re actually supporting conservation in your state? Read on to learn more about the role your annual fishing and hunting licenses play in funding important conservation work in South Carolina. 

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.

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