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I Love Edisto Auction Benefits Conservation

The Edisto Island Open Land Trust continues to grow each year with a rising tide of programs that benefit the community such as public lectures and young naturalist training. Many members of the land trust are local landowners that have already conserved private properties, but the organization continues to add members and expand their reach. The sold out I Love Edisto party and auction on June 23 is about fundraising efforts that protect both tracts of land and historical structures. Another opportunity to join in the fun and support conservation comes November 11 during the EIOLT annual oyster roast.

Colletonians know Edisto Beach very well, and their reasons for loving the barrier island are time tested. A day spent on the sandy shoreline followed by a boat ride down Bay Creek is always going to be a great way to beat the heat of summer. Edisto Island is still forested and rural, with a strong agricultural past, which matches the blueprint for much of Colleton County today. The heartbeat for conservation that protects the ACE Basin, is the same pulse that drives the Edisto Island Open Land Trust to raise awareness about the many reasons to love Edisto.

It was 1994 when local Edisto island residents rallied together to form EIOLT, out of respect for how fast commercial development was racing through other coastal communities. Today the same organization has protected at least 51-percent of Edisto Island, ensuring lots of undeveloped green space. The signs declaring protected lands and vistas are all around the island, and they have strategic placement in many cases. For instance, scores of tourists ride down the dirt road leading to Botany Bay WMA, and they will view the EIOLT sign on the right hand side that protects one-half of this now famous oak alley.

The I Love Edisto auction begins with a VIP reception at 5:30 that is powered by a small army of volunteers assisting the staff of EIOLT. A light and savory duck confit salad began the culinary offerings for the night. A slideshow display made it clear that this event requires sponsor support in order to be successful. The Title Sponsor is First Citizens Bank Wealth Management Program, and the Platinum Sponsor is Green Finney CPA firm. The Gold Sponsor list includes Carolina One real estate, Enterprise Bank and Spratlin Electric. The Silver Sponsors included Atwood Vacations, CSS, Edisto Landscapes, Edisto Watersports and South State Bank.

EIOLT Director John Girault spoke from the stage to thank the Town of Edisto Beach for their help in securing the Edisto Civic Center. Edisto Mayor Jane Darby is just one of the longtime volunteers for the I Love Edisto auction. “EIOLT works to protect Edisto Island so that future generations can enjoy this beautiful place,” said Darby. “I enjoy working each of their events because I know that I am contributing in some small way to their preservation mission.”

A large silent auction serves to start the bidding process, with item donations coming from local businesses and Lowcountry residents willing to share what they can. Special activities up for bid include riding an inner tube down Store Creek, looking for fossils on the beach with an expert, or taking a guided fishing trip. Jewelry, shade umbrellas, artwork, furniture, and one of a kind items round out the silent auction fare, with bidding finished by 8 so that emcee Tom Crawford can start the Live Auction.

Bidder numbers are issued to each guest and instructions are given to all about how to hold up their placard in order to be seen. A birding trip to a local rookery in Colleton County, is the type of item that can only be found at this EIOLT event. The private tour includes a local ornithologist to make sure each and every species encountered is correctly identified during this unique opportunity to witness the peak of nesting season in the Spring of 2019.

A sculpture of an American Oystercatcher by a master woodcarver on the auction drives home the message of habitat protection. A handmade potting bench, shooting lessons, cordless yardwork equipment, and a week’s stay at a mountain cottage are just a few more of the items that drove the bidding up. A focus on the Hutchinson House project provided bidders a chance to fund a safe viewing area. It’s exciting to think about how preserving the past, and protecting precious natural resources, is uniting many voices to join the chorus of conservation at the Edisto Island Open Land Trust.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (345 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com