On May 10, 2023 the Seabrook Island Green Space Conservancy (SIGSC) hosted Samantha Siegel, the Lowcountry Land Trust’s Angel Oak Preserve Director, who presented the plans for the Angel Oak Preserve, the 44 acre site surrounding the ancient Angel Oak.
In 2008, Samantha founded the organization “Save the Angel Oak” when the local landmark became threatened by a 600-unit development, ultimately leading a historic grassroots campaign to protect the tree in the heart of Johns Island. In 2013, Samantha teamed up with Lowcountry Land Trust raising millions to purchase and protect the land once slated for development. Now the project is in the Schematic Design Phase and is moving towards construction as soon as 18 to 24 months.
The Preserve will include miles of boardwalks and walkable trails that will feature interpretive moments to explain the site’s historic hydrologic connectivity and rich ecology as well as the site’s history as a plantation. A historic site map revealed the location of three cabins of enslaved people, a plantation house and oak allee. Along the Preserve’s boardwalks and trails, visitors will have the opportunity to understand and interpret the history of the enslaved people and their contributions to the Johns Island community.
The more than $6 million project will have a Welcome Center Pavilion that will orient visitors and provide restrooms, an information kiosk and a gift shop. A forested drive buffering the parking from Bohicket Road will create a sense of arrival and immersion into the forest as visitors arrive at the parking lot. To protect the Angel Oak, parking and the current gift shop will be relocated away from the extensive root system. The plan is to have the Preserve open and free to the public.
With as many as 400,000 visitors to the tree annually, the Preserve’s design will increase accessibility and at the same time protect the Angel Oak, its root system and the surrounding plant communities. To learn more about the Preserve, visit www.angeloakpreserve.org.
-Submitted by Susan Leggett for the Seabrook Island Green Space Conservancy
(Image Credit: Angel Oak Preserve, Angeloak.com)