The Coastal Conservation League has been trying to protect the Lowcountry’s natural environment for nearly 25 years. At its annual conference this week, the group will begin to plan for how it will continue to do that in the future.
If you go
What: Prosperous Lowcountry, Flourishing Planet — The Coastal Conservation League’s 25th Anniversary Conference.When: 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.Where: Francis Marion Hotel, 387 King St.Cost: $100 for one day; $160 for both.To Register: Go to cclfuture.org, or register at the conference.For more information: Contact Catherine McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org or 725-2066.
Dana Beach, the league’s founder and executive director, said the conference will focus on taking stock of what has been accomplished and launching plans for the organization’s next phase.
Beach launched the league in 1989 with three employees and a budget of $90,000. Now it has 23 staff members and a budget of about $2.5 million.
Beach said he’s proud of many of the organization’s accomplishments, but some high on his list are:
Taking the lead in eliminating the extension of Interstate 73 to Charleston in 1997.
Being a leader in the development of Charleston County’s comprehensive land-use plan in 1999.
Stopping Santee Cooper from building a massive coal plant in the Pee Dee in 2009.
Always presenting alternatives for projects to which it is opposed.
“But for them, the Charleston County landscape would look very different,” said County Councilman Dickie Schweers, who often agrees with the league’s positions on contentious issues.
There would be a lot of sprawl, Schweers said, and likely a lot of failed developments in rural areas.
Beach and other league staffers are seen by many in the region as environmental crusaders. But they also have detractors, who are bothered by the league’s opposition to certain types of growth and development, including its push to halt the completion of Interstate 526 and efforts to limit cruise ships in downtown Charleston.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who supports I-526 and the cruise industry, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
Beach said times have changed, and the group likely will function differently in the future. For instance, he said, the league currently is working with the League of Women Voters and the S.C. Policy Council on ethics reform.
“That’s typically not within the sphere of influence of environmental groups,” Beach said. But important environmental issues such as transportation and land-use planning will be better addressed if the General Assembly adopts ethics reform measures, he said.