February 10, 2022

Our Vision for South Carolina | February 2022 E-News

Dear Friend,

At our annual retreat last month, the staff and I had an in-depth discussion about the work ahead of us, guided by our vision that our land, water and communities are protected and state laws and policies prioritize natural systems that sustain life.

Achieving this vision is a generational puzzle, and a corner piece is the role of regulatory agencies in the months and years ahead. As evidenced by the Board of the Department of Health and Environmental Control's widely denounced decision to let four beachfront property owners leave an illegal sandbag seawall on the public beach as a so-called experiment, the state agency is failing to prioritize natural systems over private economic interests. We are mounting a bold response, but we were encouraged to witness the confirmation hearing of the Governor's new appointment for Chair of the DHEC Board, Robert Bolchoz. We can only wish him good luck as he sets off to live up to his promises.

We are also focusing on local and state-wide actions to improve our regulatory system to better protect rural drinking water. And, we called on state regulators for more public transparency and closer review of mining proposals because Your Lawyers for the Wild Side remain determined to uphold the laws that protect our land, water and communities.

Of course, our vision can only be achieved with your support and engagement. Scroll down to learn how you can be a SCELP GEM, and if you're in the Pawleys Island area on Wednesday, February 16th, please join our Green Drinks happy hour where you can learn more about our fight for the Wild Side.


Amy E. Armstrong

Debidue Dispute on the Rise

The sandbag seawall on Debidue Beach. Photo provided by the Coastal Conservation League 

We were deeply disappointed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Board's 3-2 vote last month to allow a sandbag seawall to remain in front of four oceanfront houses on Debidue Beach under the guise of research. We will not let this decision stand and, with our partners at the Coastal Conservation League, we anticipate a legal challenge once the Board issues its Order. As staff attorney Leslie Lenhardt told the Coastal Observer about the structure, “It’s completely unnecessary and it’s illegal."

From bulkheads to groins, we have fought back against this wealthy gated community's many efforts to weaken or evade laws designed to protect the public trust beach. Learn more ... 

Act Now: Protect Communities From Mining

South Carolina has a growing issue with mining in areas less than five acres, also known as small mines. At a recent DHEC public meeting, staff attorney Lauren Megill Milton spoke on behalf of conservation partners and clients affected by such operations. She urged the agency to conduct a full environmental review of every proposal, or, at a minimum implement additional safeguards to protect the coast, communities and cultural resources. She also called for public notices for these mines to give affected communities an opportunity to weigh in. Join us in calling for more public transparency and closer review of small mines by submitting your own comments to DHEC as the agency reviews it general certification. The deadline is TODAY. Watch the full public meeting and don't miss Lauren's comments at the 42:17 mark.

The SCELP Team at Work and at Play!

From left: Lauren Megill Milton, Michael Corley, Mike Martinez, Leslie Lenhardt, Ben Cunningham, Alison Geer, Filippo Ravalico, Amy Armstrong, Rachel Oliver, Lorraine Chow

Over our two-day retreat in late January, the SCELP staff took the opportunity to discuss our vision and strategic priorities over the next five years, which include: 1. Protecting life-sustaining natural systems; 2. Protecting water from current and future threats; and 3. Advancing environmental justice. We are grateful for the feedback from so many supporters that helped us form these priorities and look forward to sharing our progress.

We also enjoyed social time and wandering through the lovely Francis Beidler Forest. A big thank you to our friends at Audubon South Carolina for welcoming us.  


Are you a SCELP GEM? When you Give Every Month, you make a vital contribution to SCELP's long-term financial well-being. GEMs provide SCELP with a reliable, consistent source of funding and continued encouragement throughout the year!

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