The Boeing Company received approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to go ahead with a wetlands mitigation plan that will preserve 4,000 acres of land in the Lowcountry.
Boeing hopes to eventually develop over 400 acres of land near the Charleston airport that includes 153 acres of federally protected wetlands. In order to get the permission to develop on that property, Boeing had to compensate by purchasing other land for conservation.
“To get the wetland permits they have to compensate for the alteration and damage they’re going to do to the wetlands there by protecting wetlands somewhere else,” South Carolina Nature Conservancy Executive Director Mark Robertson said. “They came to different conservation groups like the Nature Conservancy and others and asked us to help them in identifying really significant, important and invaluable wetlands that they could protect.”
Boeing purchased three different tracts of land near the Francis Marion National Forest north of Charleston that totals 4,000 acres, which include 2,000 acres of wetlands. The Lowcountry Open Land Trust (LOLT) helped Boeing fund one of those tracts. LOLT will hold the property for five years before turning it over to the Department of Natural Resources for long-term ownership.
Boeing funded the other two tracts with help from The Open Space Institute (OSI) and the Nature Conservancy. They will hold the land for five years and then give management over to the U.S. Forest Service.
Robertson said this preservation effort is a good example of a way to help the economy and also protect local ecosystems.
“It’s a really good message that we can do things smartly with committed people to make sure we have both economic development and a clean and healthy environment,” he told South Carolina Radio Network.
Boeing South Carolina Vice President and General Manager Jack Jones released a statement about the effort on Monday.
“This plan supports our business growth as well as our commitment to the environment and communities where we live and work,” said Jones. “It’s exciting because it ensures our ability to grow while protecting the unique natural ecosystem of this state for future generations of South Carolinians and visitors.”
Boeing officials say the conservation effort will increase the protections of land, water quality, and threatened and endangered wildlife species in the area.
Patrick Ingraham filed this report