The Ebb & Flow

Boone Hall: Reflecting on an Extraordinary Gift

When I drive onto the sand roads of Boone Hall Plantation, I always roll down both front seat windows. My practice was no different when I visited on Friday, November 20th, nor was the feeling that came over me as I approached the awe-inspiring oak allee. Peace, quiet, and beauty—big time. What hits me is how that drive into the property is still just as impactful as it was on my first visit. 

Barely over a year ago, community members gathered at Boone Hall’s cotton dock to celebrate an incredible gift. Willie McRae and his sister Elizabeth McRae Petersen, who both grew up on the property, had made one of the largest donations of conservation easement value in South Carolina history. Lowcountry Land Trust was privileged to accept the conservation easement that protects the land and preserves that same awe-inspired feeling people have upon driving through Boone Hall’s gate—Forever.

But on November 20th, I wasn’t there to work. No easement terms to negotiate and no stewardship visit to report. I got to go back to experience the place. On that day, it was my privilege to share Boone Hall with friend and colleague Dale Threatt-Taylor, to welcome her in her new post as state director for The Nature Conservancy.  

Jim Westerhold, Boone Hall’s new general manager, toured us around the property, showing us the incredible variety that makes this place one-of-a-kind.  The freshwater pond with its overhanging live oak filled with ibis, herons, egrets, and wood storks; the farm fields and orchards with their crops; a fox squirrel that was among the five recently translocated to the property; the corn maze designed this year in the shape of a portrait paying tribute to Willie McRae, who passed away in April; a bald eagle perched above a nest high in a mature pine tree; and some ancient Boone Hall deeds and plats framed on the wall inside the main house. 

On that visit special, I was pleased to present framed resolutions passed by Lowcountry Land Trust’s Board of Trustees, honoring Willie and Elizabeth for their extraordinary gift. It was a tremendous joy to deliver these items in-person to Jim and Boone Hall’s staff—and a few minutes later to Elizabeth McRae Petersen herself. One needs not to elaborate beyond the last paragraph of the resolution, which fittingly honors these landowners and our funders with the following words:

“Let it be known that the S.C. Conservation Bank, the Charleston County Greenbelt Fund and Charleston County Council provided critical funding.  In requesting compensation for only a fraction of the value of the land, Elizabeth’s and Willie’s gift represents one of the most valuable private donations to conservation in the history of South Carolina.  ‘It will always be a magical, mystical place,’ said Willie, speaking for himself and Elizabeth after the conservation easement signing.  Indeed, we thank them for making ‘always’ a reality.”

Recent Posts

The Ebb & Flow: April, 2021
April 13, 2021

Dear Friends, We have made it to April, at long last. I don’t know about you, but this month I feel a stronger sense of rebirth than I ever have...

Protecting Home: A Conversation with SC Aquarium's Albert George
April 13, 2021

[caption id="attachment_6625" align="alignnone" width="497"] Albert George, Photo by Chris Aluka Berry[/caption] Spring is in full bloom here in the Lowcountry. With the beautiful weather and Earth Day just around the...

Lowcountry Land Trust Hires New Chief Advancement Officer
April 02, 2021

Lowcountry Land Trust Hires New Chief Advancement Officer Charleston, SC--Lowcountry Land Trust has hired Meg O'Halloran as chief advancement officer. She will work on the strategic direction of advancement initiatives,...

The Ebb & Flow: March, 2021
March 16, 2021

Dear Friends, Welcome to the first edition of The Ebb & Flow, a monthly newsletter that will take the place of our former weekly communication known as The President’s Log....

Woman in Conservation: Pam Porter
March 16, 2021

Woman in Conservation: Pam Porter In honor of Women's History Month, we are celebrating the women in our community who have taken a stand to protect the Lowcountry. We were...

Keeping the Balance: An Interview With Ashley Demosthenes
February 10, 2021

Ashley Demosthenes, President & CEO, sat down with Leyla Gulen of Fox 24 News Now to discuss Lowcountry Land Trust's work and upcoming For the Love of the Lowcountry Auction....