The Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program had another successful year in 2017. Program
goals for 2017 included continued work toward protecting high priority targets as identified by
the 2014 Greenprint Plan, continuing to build significant conservation areas by purchasing land
adjacent to or in close proximity to protected land. The work accomplished throughout the past
year has furthered all of these goals.
Lisa Lord, BCOLT’s RCLPP Project Director, left the position in July 2017 and Barbara G. Holmes
started as Director in August 2017. Also, the RCLPP Board received two new members in 2017:
Walter Mack (District 3) and Terry Hill (District 6). Currently there is no Board member
appointed from District 5.
2017 Land Protection Summary
The Beaufort County Open Land Trust (BCOLT) staff considered fifty-two (52) properties (some
inquiries, some actively pursued) in 2017. Thirty-one (31) of those properties did not meet the
criteria for the program or the landowners were not interested in pursuing the funding offered
for their property or development rights. Six (6) properties were brought forward for
consideration to the RCL Board and four (4) of those projects were recommended for purchase
to the Natural Resources Committee of County Council. One of the two remaining projects
brought forward was donated to BCOLT outside the RCLP Program, and the other project may
become a viable project in the future.
Cumulative Program Statistics (1998-2017)
- Total Protected Acres: 23,931 acres
– Fee Simple: 11,515 acres
– Conservation Easement: 12,416 acres
- Total Dollars Spent on Land Purchases: $ 130.5 million (includes $8.4 million spent prior to first referendum)
- Total Partner Funds: $ 39.3 million
Four relatively small but strategically, historically and culturally important parcels were
purchased through the program in 2017, two north of the Broad and two south of the Broad
Paige Point Cemetery: Paige Point Cemetery, located in northern Beaufort County, is situated
on the marshes of Huspah Creek (branch of the Broad River). The 1.83 acre parcel contains an
.82 acre African-American cemetery that has been active since before the 1850’s. The parcel
was purchased for $35,000. The cemetery is protected as a historic site which is a state and
county designation and is recognized by the State Historic Preservation Office. Beaufort County
completed an Above Ground Historic Resources Survey in 1997 of historic buildings and other
above ground historic resources that covered the unincorporated areas of Beaufort County. The
Paige Point Cemetery was identified in that survey. Future archeological investigations are
planned by the County.
Squire Pope Carriage House (Wright property): The Squire Pope Carriage House, one of the
most significant historic buildings in the Town of Bluffton’s Historic District, was built around
1850 and was the village cottage of one of Bluffton’s founder, Squire William Pope, a wealthy
landowner from Hilton Head Island who served in the SC Senate. The 1.29 acre waterfront tract
including two historic structures was purchased for $1.5 million in an even financial partnership
between the RCLPP and The Town of Bluffton. This purchase promotes heritage tourism within
the Town of Bluffton’s Historic District and Southern Beaufort County, and continues to protect
the conservation values of the May River, a socially, economically and environmentally
important waterway, includes water quality, scenic views, use and public access to the water.
Beaufort Gas Boundary Street, LLC (Tiger Express): This .85 acre parcel is located at 2262
Boundary Street, a primary entrance into the City of Beaufort, and is the fifth acquisition in the
proposed 7-acre linear park along Battery Creek. This green space has been included in the City
of Beaufort Boundary Street Master Plan to improve the entrance to the City of Beaufort for 10
years. Of the $650,000 purchase price, the City of Beaufort contributed $50,000 and the RCLPP
The Little Point: The Little Point is a 1.9 acre parcel located on a narrow piece of high ground
adjacent to Pinckney Point Preserve, owned by Beaufort County and purchased with RCLPP
funds in 2013. The property was purchased for $150,000, adding value to and protecting the
entrance to Pinckney Point Preserve. This purchase continues to protect the rural character of
Pinckney Colony Road, the investment the County has made in protecting this corridor, and the
conservation values of the Okatie and Colleton Rivers which socially, economically, and
environmentally important waterways.
Additional Program Highlights
Economic Benefits Analysis & Report: BCOLT staff and several key members of the
RCLPP Board collaborated with The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Economic team
on the “Economic Benefits of Parks, Trails and Conserved Open Spaces in Beaufort
County, South Carolina” Report to be released on January 22, 2018.
- The Report shows that Beaufort County’s parks, trails, and conserved open
spaces generate millions of dollars in economic benefits per year. TPL’s
Conservation Economics team identified eight major attributes of these assets
that provide economic value and can be measured: property value, clean water,
clean air, tourism, recreational use, health cost savings, recreation spending
agricultural support and military defense support.
- The Report’s property value, clean water and clean air analyses also provide the
specific economic benefits attributable to Rural & Critical Lands, quantifying their
specific benefits to the citizens of Beaufort County.
- Four presentations of the Report results will be presented in various locations of
the County on January 22 and 23, the first presentation being given to Beaufort
County Council on January 22 at its 6 PM meeting.
Board Discussion initiated in Fall 2017 on Possible 2018 Bond Referendum:
Will Abberger from The Trust for Public Land, who has assisted with previous
RCLPP bond referendums, presented a webinar at the October meeting to
outline the steps to prepare for a possible referendum. Two of these steps are
- A Feasibility Study is being conducted to gauge Beaufort County citizens’
willingness to support an additional bond referendum.
- A telephone poll is planned for Spring 2018
- These efforts have been funded by grants made available by TPL and BCOLT
The Beaufort County Open Land Trust looks forward to its continued partnership with Beaufort
County protecting important property and open space. We would be happy to further discuss
anything mentioned in this memorandum at your convenience.