MOUNT PLEASANT -- The frustrating part of a lot of conservation easements is that the land is private. There's no way for most people to see it.

But that's not the case with the Waterworks Marshview Trail and its wide-open salt flats.

The ribbon will be cut Saturday on the 57-acre easement, opening for public access a short trail in the middle of town, through six acres of maritime forests to the edge of the marsh.

The Commissioners of Public Works today will sign the conservation deed over to the Mount

Pleasant Land Conservancy to preserve the tract and to give people an opportunity to enjoy it, said Clay Duffie, Mount Pleasant Waterworks general manager.

"It's serene, just a real nice walk back to the marsh. It's nice to have something like that close to the neighborhood," said Bob Bell, president of the Back Bay Village Homeowners Association, a neighborhood alongside the land.

The trail isn't much longer than a footfall field, but the easement extends into the marsh past a tiny hammock island nearly to Inlet Creek. Ospreys cruise overhead and nest platforms will be rehabilitated on the site. Duffie has seen deer and eagles.

But the real prize of this easement might be the public access it provides, said John Girault, conservancy director, "the whole community tie-in for quality of life. It's surrounded by communities, right next to the ball fields. That's part of our mission, to find publicly accessible nooks and crannies" in the increasingly urban East Cooper area.

The easement is the second large tract taken on by the seven-year-old conservancy, following the 133-acre Oakland Plantation.

The tract originally was part of a 90-acre tract bought for the waterworks' sewage treatment plant, but after Hurricane Hugo wreaked havoc on the marsh front, the flood line was moved back, preventing the plant from being located there.

The Commissioners of Public Works keep title to the land, and the waterworks will provide buffer plants between its operations. Girault said eventually the conservancy would like to create a loop trail working along the edge of the salt flat.

Plans call for working with nearby Whitesides Elementary and other schools on outdoor lab and field trip activities.

"It's a signature salt flat, a wide open expanse," Girault said.


WHAT: A ceremony to open public access to Waterworks Marshview Trail.

WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday; guided tours, coffee and cocoa provided.

WHERE: Behind Mount Pleasant Waterworks operations center on Rifle Range Road.