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WestRock endows land conservancy, will protect 53,000 acres in East Edisto

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Staff Report
Published Feb. 29, 2016

WestRock pledged Thursday to protect more than 53,000 acres from development within its 72,000-acre East Edisto tract, which straddles Charleston and Dorchester counties.

WestRock has endowed the newly created East Edisto Conservancy with $1.6 million for ongoing conservation and protection of the land, the company announced during a news conference.

East Edisto Conservancy
board members:

  • Charles Lane, chair, ACE Basin Task Force
  • Raleigh West, director, Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust
  • Michael McShane, director, Ducks Unlimited
  • Ken Seeger, president, WestRock Land and Development
  • Mac Baughman, WestRock Land and Development
As part of WestRock’s conservation plan, which was announced last year, a five-member board has been created for the conservancy. The board will monitor and enforce density restrictions, such as preventing development along the Edisto River and ensuring low rural densities — one house per 25 acres in many areas — on the remaining land.

East Edisto spans a 19-mile breadth from Hollywood to Summerville, running from the Edisto River east to S.C. Highway 165 and crossing three major watersheds.

East Edisto has been in the planning stages for nearly a decade. WestRock, formerly MWV, planned the community with a focus on recruiting jobs and residents through commercial developments, a housing community and green spaces. Plans included maintaining rural areas and farmsteads.

The Pine Hill Business Campus is now open on U.S. Highway 17. Construction has started on Summers Corner, a 15,000-acre, mixed-use housing development. And planning continues on the 3,500-acre mixed-use project in the 14,500-acre Spring Grove site in western Charleston County.

Ken Seeger, president of WestRock Land and Development, said the plans are for East Edisto to be “part of the solution for growth in the Lowcountry.”

“The vision plan for East Edisto was driven by community input,” Seeger said in a news release. “We built the Pine Hill Business Campus before we started homes in Summers Corner, Spring Grove recently received final approval, and now we are introducing the East Edisto Conservancy.”

Dana Beach, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League, said the foundation for the agreement was laid decades ago, “with the pioneering efforts in the ACE basin and on Sandy Island, where creativity and collaboration merged to produce unprecedented conservation results.”

“It (the agreement) proves that commerce and conservation can not only coexist, but that they can dramatically enhance each other,” Beach said in the release.

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