Charleston Currents

New “Beach” read offers critical conservation, political insights

Conservationist Dana Beach years ago described how to keep development from mauling everything into a mess of sprawl. Don’t, he said, talk or write about merely “protecting land.” Instead, use words to conceptualize protecting “special places” in South Carolina.

The first approach is kind of clinical and vanilla. It outlines what one wants, but doesn’t link to what someone else may really care about.  But the second method connects conservation with a reader’s innate definition of keeping safe his or her own special place, whether it is a spot on a beach, a pristine stretch of river, a favorite area to see birds, a trail in the mountains. In other words, it allows the reader to be involved in framing the concept of what protection means.

In a new book that tells 10 conservation success stories in South Carolina over the last 30 years, Beach and his wife Virginia share keys to keeping a lot of the Palmetto State’s special places safe from threats of sprawl, development and, in one sense, human greed.

“A Wholly Admirable Thing: Defending Nature and Community on the South Carolina Coast” is more than a remembrance of 30 years of conservation work by Beach and the Coastal Conservation League.  It’s a celebration of how people — Republicans, Democrats and political independents — can work together to make South Carolina a better, friendlier place by keeping what attracts us here in first place.

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