Lowcountry land conservation group names new director

Ashley Demosthenes

Conserving private land in the Lowcountry is in new hands. Ashley Demosthenes has taken over as executive director of Lowcountry Open Land Trust from Elizabeth Hagood.

Demosthenes’ new position was announced Tuesday at the trust’s annual board meeting. The move comes as the trust, which historically has operated discreetly with private owners to put natural river corridor land under conservation easements, moves to more community involvement with its work.

She called the move “absolutely necessary for the trust to continue working.”

Demosthenes, 39, is a Charleston native and has been the trust’s conservation director for the past two years. Hagood, 53, the trust’s original director, took the job again five years ago on an interim basis, partly to allow time to find a new director, she said. Demosthenes was named after a national search.

“All of this is exactly in her wheelhouse,” Hagood said. Hagood plans to continue with conservation work, and volunteer with LOLT. “My husband (Maybank Hagood) told me, ‘I know you. You’re going to change hats, but you’re going to keep on doing what you’re doing.’”

The trust has worked with owners to conserve more than 100,00 acres, including key properties in the ACE Basin, Four Holes Swamp and the southern Lowcountry, according to a news release.

In 2014, it partnered with Boeing Co. to purchase and conserve the pivotally located, 1,682 Keystone tract at the edge of Francis Marion National Forest. It worked with S.C. Ports Authority to protect critical Cooper River corridor land, and helped protect the iconic Angel Oak property on Johns Island.

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