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Conversations with Conservationists

On Wednesday, over 80 advocates filled the room for Conversations with Conservationists. The South Carolina Conservation Coalition gathered to brief Senators on its conservation priorities for this legislative session. Hosted by Senators Courson and McElveen, Senator McElveen set the tone by expressing the important message that “business and conservation are not mutually exclusive.”

Bob Guild, Sierra Club, discussed the growing concerns regarding Pinewood hazardous waste landfill. This former kitty-litter mine sits a few hundred yards from Lake Marion. He appealed to Senators to take the necessary steps to contain contamination and ensure adequate funding for clean-up. Many major South Carolina industries sent hazardous waste to Pinewood, so it is the responsibility of the entire state to ensure clean-up.

Doug Busbee, Edisto Concerns, took the podium with an impassioned speech about the Edisto River and water withdrawals. His family has been farming on the banks of the Edisto since the 1700’s. When a large farm moved in and was allowed to withdrawal 800 million gallons of water per month, he decided to get involved with protecting not only the Edisto but all South Carolina rivers. He urged Senators to take a closer look at laws that affect our rivers. Click here learn more about the SC Rivers Forever campaign.

Burnie Maybank, Lowcountry Open Land Trust, appealed to Senators to fully fund the Conservation Bank.  Seventy-six percent of land protected by the bank offers general or partial public access. Senator Sheheen reiterated the importance of fully funding the bank. Sen. McElveen encouraged others to visit areas protected by the bank.

Michael Covington, Coastal Conservation League, urged Senators to take politics out of the process of road construction and improvements. The State Infrastructure Bank should be required to follow a priority list when selecting road projects that will receive state funding.

The Coastal Conservation League’s Energy and Climate Director, Hamilton Davis, thanked Senators, including Sen. Gregory, for their leadership  on the balanced compromise solar bill adopted in 2014. The utilities and conservationist partners continue to work collaboratively and look forward to future program so all South Carolinians can take advantage of clean low-cost energy.

Whether you consider yourself a tree-hugger or a hunter or just a South Carolinian there are places in the great state worth protecting.  This week, the united voices delivered a strong message to Senators.

Keep up with the Conservation Coalition at www.conservationcoalitionsc.org.

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