The East Cooper Land Trust purchased a 398-acre site between the Mount Pleasant and Sullivan's Island, S.C., on Nov. 15. The $238,800 purchase was made possible with a NAWCA grant in partnership with Duck Unlimited.

The property consists of salt marsh and associated upland islands along the Intracoastal Waterway. It provides habitat for breeding, migration and wintering migratory birds in the coastal zone of South Carolina. Salt marsh is ranked as one of the most biologically productive ecosystems on earth, providing nursery grounds for many species of birds and fish and is a vital wildlife habitat.

"The area is visible from the Ben Sawyer Causeway," said DU Conservation Lands Coordinator Justin Park. "As the main route out to Sullivan's Island from Charleston, the causeway has a tremendous amount of daily and yearly traffic. Protecting this important natural area will have important benefits to waterfowl, wildlife and people."

Human infrastructure continues to be built on the surrounding highlands. Maintaining the integrity of the wetlands will mitigate potential flooding and protect water quality in the area.

"It was striking to see the contrast between this seemingly pristine wildlife habitat and the surrounding urban environment in Mount Pleasant and Sullivan's Island," said East Cooper Land Trust Director Catherine Main. "This purchase will help ensure the preservation of the rural character of our coastal community, which is one of the primary goals of the East Cooper Land Trust."

East Cooper Land Trust's ownership of the property opens the potential for public benefit along the blueway for kayakers and collaborative educational programs. Another long-term option includes the installation and maintenance of a living shoreline oyster reef and restoration to a more natural state.