Monday, October 13, 2008

Regional Growth Plans

At the Francis Beidler Forest Audubon Center, we are keenly interested in the regional growth plans. The Post and Courier has posted an interactive map on their website that provides
basic information regarding the various governmental plans, including links to more detailed information and how citizens can become involved in the planning process.

A look at the Francis Beidler Forest's boundaries on Google Earth shows Four Holes Swamp as a ribbon of green winding through parts of Orangeburg County, Dorchester County, and Berkeley County. A closer look also shows development encroaching on green spaces in all three counties. Protecting land as the National Audubon Society has done with the Francis Beidler Forest or through conservation easements as Norfolk Southern Railroad has done with the Brosnan Forest or as private landowners have done will keep critical portions of the region green. However, unplanned growth in the remaining portions of these counties, as well as Charleston County, could have negative effects on the protected green spaces. Therefore, public involvement in the ongoing comprehensive planning process is crucial in developing a balanced plan for future growth and the quality of life issues.

If, in 1969, individuals in our area had not seen the value in protecting the old-growth, cypress-tupelo swamp that is the core of the Francis Beidler Forest, such a place would absent for at least another 1000 years! In other words, such a place would likely be lost to humankind. Like those in 1969, we need to be vigilant as the region grows to ensure we don't lose what we love before we notice it's gone.

Image by Mark Musselman

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