Exploring the Lowcountry’s protected green spaces

Preserving paradise

Story by Tasha Esselstein + Photos by Arno Dimmling

Green spaces in urban areas are vital for preserving the natural beauty of cities and towns, fostering biodiversity and providing a sanctuary for people to reconnect with nature. Green spaces are crucial in the Lowcountry, where the threat of tourism-driven overdevelopment looms large. 

Here, the commitment to nurturing and preserving green spaces is evident, as locals and authorities work hand-in-hand to protect the region’s natural splendor. Beaufort County implemented a green space tax last year. The tax, effective for two years or until it raises $100 million, aims to acquire and protect land as green spaces. Beaufort County already has several protected parcels. The goal is to increase their number.

These green spaces serve as reminders of the importance of preserving nature’s beauty and offer a refuge for all to appreciate and enjoy.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve

Location: 175 Greenwood Drive, Hilton Head Island

Highlights: Sea Pines Forest Preserve is expansive, untouched land in Sea Pines Resort serving as a sanctuary for local wildlife and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can participate in birdwatching, fishing, picnicking, hiking, even trail riding on horseback. The preserve nurtures diverse indigenous plant and animal species and preserves their natural habitats.

Brewer Memorial Park

Location: 47 Sea Island Parkway, Beaufort

Highlights: Located at the foot of the Woods Memorial Bridge, Brewer Memorial Park spans one acre and features a fishing pier, an open lawn, and a great spot for wildlife observation, fishing, crabbing and kayaking. The Open Land Trust and Beaufort County co-own the property, ensuring its ongoing maintenance.

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Between Hilton Head Island and Bluffton 

Highlights: Pinckney Island has over 14 miles of trails, offering glimpses of diverse wildlife in their natural habitat. The refuge’s tidal creeks, salt marshes and abundant bird species make it a haven for hiking, biking and wildlife observation.

Jarvis Creek Park

Location: 50 Jarvis Creek Road, Hilton Head Island

Highlights: Encompassing 53 acres, Jarvis Creek Park offers a range of amenities, including a one-mile walking trail, a playground area, open fields, fishing piers and a pond. This green space provides a peaceful getaway. Abundant flora and fauna further enhance its appeal, creating an ideal recreational environment.

Crystal Lake Park

Location: 124 Lady’s Island Drive, Beaufort

Highlights: Crystal Lake Park is a 25-acre oasis featuring forested habitats and salt marshes. Visitors can enjoy a well-maintained trail loop spanning 0.5 miles, engaging in wildlife watching and fishing in the park’s pond. The salt marshes are crucial in sustaining the delicate Lowcountry ecosystem, making this park an indispensable green space for environmental preservation.

Whitehall Park

Location: 120 White Hall Drive, Beaufort

Highlights: Whitehall Park is 9.72-acres of upland mixed pine and live oak forest at the base of the Woods Memorial Bridge on Lady’s Island, across the Beaufort River from downtown Beaufort and opposite the highway from Whitehall Landing. It’s a great spot for picnicking, walking and wildlife viewing.

Pinckney Colony Preserve

Location: 7 Pinckney Colony Road, Bluffton

Highlights: Pinckney Colony Preserve is a 38-acre expanse of forested wetlands. It was acquired primarily for wetland and water quality conservation. Given the sensitivity of the wetland ecosystems, minimal amenities and trails have been provided, except for a picnic area. 

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