COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Jan.19, 2022) - The South Carolina Conservation Coalition (SCCC) hosted it's annual Senate briefing to share with elected officials the Coalition’s legislative priorities for the 2022 session. Audubon South Carolina’s Policy Director Julia Dietz, who also serves as Co-Chair of the SCCC Steering Committee, discussed the conservation community’s goal of doubling the amount of protected lands in South Carolina.
“We really want to focus on strategic initiatives to make sure we are protecting the most valuable natural resources in the right areas. We know that our natural resources are the foundation for our $24 billion tourism economy, our forestry industry, and our agriculture industry”, said Julia, “We all have special places that we like to go to." South Carolina attracts more and more visitors, residents, and businesses from all over the country each year, and Julia notes “a lot of that is because of the quality of life we can provide here –all the greenspace and outdoor recreation and access to all the clean natural resources that we have." She highlighted the comprehensive benefits of land conservation including equitable access to greenspace, healthy communities, tourism, and flood mitigation, among other benefits.
Audubon SC has been engaged in strategic conservation efforts through the Healthy Forests program around the state. They promote sustainable forest practices landowners can adopt that benefits birds, help sequester carbon, and supports the productivity of their land. Audubon SC also recently contributed to the restoration of Crab Bank, an island in Charleston Harbor that hosts nesting shorebirds and provides protections against storm surge and hurricane damage to the coastal community.
At the Statehouse this year, Audubon SC and the SCCC are advocating for the passage of S.152, the County Greenspace Sales Tax Act, which allows county councils to put a sales tax on the ballot to provide local funds for conservation. They are also supporting several state agency budget requests that will support conservation, including $140 million for the SC Department of Natural Resources, $20 million for the SC Conservation Bank and $300 million for the SC Office of Resilience; as well as other new and innovative funding mechanisms designed to significantly expand and enhance land protection in the state.
Julia remarked, “What I really like about land conservation is that it can achieve not only conservation outcomes but also the quality of life and economic outcomes that we all strive for as a state.”
In addition to Audubon SC’s presentation on land conservation, SCCC partners Upstate Forever (UF) and Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC) presented two additional SCCC priorities. These included support for bill S.219 to address plastic pollutants in water, and fulfilling environmental state agency budget requests.
About the SCCC:
The South Carolina Conservation Coalition is an organization of nearly 40 conservation-minded organizations working with citizens across South Carolina to ensure future generations continue to enjoy the blessings of our richly diverse state. Our vision for South Carolina's prosperous future is one where natural resources are recognized as an irreplaceable part of our economy, history and culture --and where economic development and conservation goals align.