Final pursuit of Angel Oak protective land barrier announced

Charleston City Council has committed $400,000 to help buy the final parcel of land needed to protect the Angel Oak.

The Lowcountry Open Land Trust, which late last year raised enough money to purchase 17 acres to expand Angel Oak Park, is now going after 18 acres more to head off the chance that an apartment community might be built on the adjacent spread.

“This community told us resoundingly that they support the complete preservation of the Angel Oak,” Elizabeth Hagood, the Land Trust’s executive director, said Tuesday of the new campaign.

The target property, near the connection of Maybank Highway and Bohicket Road on Johns Island, would create a complete buffer around the tree, advocates say.

The total purchase price for the land is $3.3 million. The Land Trust will raise $400,000 and has applied for $2.5 million in Charleston County Greenbelt funds.

Charleston City Council, which was briefed on the plan at Tuesday’s scheduled meetings, immediately got behind the idea, endorsing the $400,000 contribution.

They did, however, receive assurances the land will stay open and accessible to the public, which the Land Trust said it is committed to doing.

The new effort comes after the first 17-acre target parcel closed in December through a similar fundraising effort. Conservationists have spent years trying to protect the spaces around the ancient tree, which is a massive live oak believed to be at least several centuries old.

Just as in the earlier land deal that saved the 17 acres, Raleigh-based Coastal Federal Credit Union owns the new target property. The next purchase, if it goes through within the next six weeks or so, would complete an agreement involving the credit union and Raleigh-based Dominion Realty Partners. Dominion has a contract with the bank to purchase it.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said the advantage of the purchase is that it will both protect and put the property surrounding the tree safely into the public realm.

Charleston committed $250,000 to the earlier effort to purchase the previous 17 acres. That final price was $3.6 million.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551

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