Beaufort County Open Land Trust Turns 50

The Beaufort County Open Land Trust, South Carolina’s first land trust program, celebrated its 50th anniversary this spring. The OLT was the brainchild of three friends concerned about the changing face of the Lowcountry as development threatened more and more open spaces, vistas that make the area the natural jewel it is.

Betty Logan Waskiewicz, John Trask Jr. and the late Marguerite Waterhouse Broz joined forces, brought their friends and other concerned citizens into the effort and purchased a home site on the bluff to protect the open view of the Beaufort River and marshes for all to enjoy.

A working relationship with Beaufort County, through the Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program, has enabled the preservation and protection of more than 25,000 acres of land throughout the county and neighboring counties. Most recently, OLT partnered with the county to create the Widgeon Point Preserve on S.C. 170 and the Broad and Chechessee Rivers.

The nonprofit’s staff and volunteers were instrumental in the fight against proposed development of Bay Point Island, a project still in litigation as the developers protest the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals rejection. They helped negotiate an agreement with the developers of Whitehall on Lady’s Island for reduced construction.

Since 1968, the Trust has worked with movie producer Joel Silver, owner of Auldbrass Plantation near Yemassee, in an agreement that preserves the Frank Lloyd Wright designed plantation buildings and makes them open for ticketed tours every two years as a fundraising effort to support the OLT projects. As another fundraiser, the Trust’s popular SEA ISLAND SEASONS cookbook remains in print since 1980.

The list of accomplishments goes on and on and hopefully will for another 50 years.


This story first appeared in The Island News