Fundraising Continues to Preserve Morris Island (SC)

CHARLESTON, SC 10/10/2006: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today ferried a group of TPL volunteers and other interested parties to the shores of Morris Island, a 126-acre historic barrier island situated at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. The goal was to acquaint visitors with the progress TPL has made toward preserving the island–the site of what many believe to be among the first shots fired in the U.S. Civil War.

“We are approximately four months away from the February 2nd closing date of Morris Island,” says Slade Gleaton, TPL’s South Carolina director. “Over the next few months we will focus on raising the remaining $1.5 million in private contributions to complete the purchase and continue working with the community to create initial plans for the future use and management of the island.”

The development of a Conceptual Master Plan for the island is underway. TPL has retained Keane and Co., a local planning and design company to oversee this initial planning effort. Once TPL has purchased and conveyed the island into public ownership, day-to-day management of the island is expected to be performed by the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission. The PRC anticipates that a much more extensive Master Planning process for the Island would occur in 2007.

TPL has recently obtained two important studies related to Morris Island, which are expected to help shape the initial Conceptual Plan. TRC Garrow and Associates conducted a preliminary historic survey which documents the shifting movement of the island since the American Civil War, and locates possible sensitive, historic areas. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources conducted a preliminary environmental study of Morris Island that identifies the various habitats and plant communities and details specific plants and animals that exist on the island. The Natural Resource study also recommended better management of human activities on the island to further protect the natural resources.

“Morris Island is important not only to Charleston, but to the nation,” says David Agnew, chair of TPL’s South Carolina Advisory Council. “Presently, natural forces and uncontrolled recreational access present very real threats to its future. Working with a broad representation of local and state conservation, history and educational organizations, we are striving to secure a positive future for Morris Island.”

In February of this year, The Ginn Company, a Florida-based real estate developer, purchased 126 acres of Morris Island for $6.8 million. The company agreed to resell it to the conservation nonprofit TPL for $4.5 million – $2.3 million less than its acquisition price, with the intent of protecting the natural and historic resources of the Island while promoting balanced public access. In addition, The Ginn Company agreed to contribute another $500,000 at closing to help cover the planning, studies and other costs associated with the transaction. The agreement calls for TPL to complete its acquisition of Morris Island by February 2, 2007.

The South Carolina Conservation Bank has committed $1.5 million to the purchase price and the Charleston County PRC has expressed initial interest in granting support through moneys raised through the half-cent sales tax program. TPL is embarking on a $1.5 million private capital campaign to bring in the remaining capital.

TPL anticipates that Morris Island will be as a special place for people to experience history and nature in the years ahead. “As the Charleston area grows, these special places will become more and more important,” says Gleaton. “This is our last chance to ensure that Morris Island will belong not to one company or individual, but to the entire community.”

To make a tax-deductible gift to purchase and protect Morris Island, please send a checkpayable to The Trust for Public Land to:

Save Morris Island Campaign
The Trust for Public Land
21 Burns Lane, Suite 200
Charleston, SC 29401

TPL welcomes your interest in this unique project. If you desire more information or want toget involved in our campaign to save Morris Island, please visit our website or give us a call at our Charleston office: (843) 853-5880.

About TPL: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. In South Carolina, the Trust has protected over 16,000 acres, valued at more than $55 million. For more information, see .