Gardening Blog

President of Hilton Head Island Land Trust talks environment, ongoing projects

Linda Hyslop took a day off from The Blue Parrot, her shop in The Village at Wexford on Hilton Head Island, to talk with us about her other job, the presidency of The Hilton Head Island Land Trust. It's a big job. The Land Trust looks after five properties on the island. Land Trust members live island-wide; the board of directors is chosen from the membership and meets once a month. From the beginning of her tenure as president, Hyslop has sought to find ways that might generate more interest with the public in the Land Trust. Here she talks about her interest in the environment, Fort Howell and Land Trust projects:

Question. When did you move to Hilton Head? Was it interest in the environment that brought you here?

Answer. We moved into our home in Palmetto Hall 11 years ago. I'd had four shops in Atlanta and opened one here in Shelter Cove where we remained for nine years before moving to Wexford. I'd not been especially interested in the environment although I did join a "clean the rivers" (campaign) while at school at Kent State. (I) married Stephen; we had two children. He was with Johnson and Johnson, and we moved every year. Before moving into Palmetto Hall, we lived briefly in the Headlands across from Whooping Crane Conservancy, and I spent happy hours walking that beautiful boardwalk. I volunteered at Honey Horn Museum and did walks under the tutelage of Jim Fannon at Fort Howell. I learned that the fort was one of the Land Trust properties. Jim didn't have to talk much to get me to a Land Trust meeting. That was three years ago.

Q. What was going on at the board meetings then? Besides Fort Howell, what are the other properties for which the Land Trust serves as steward?

A. Each board member is in charge of keeping up with the needs and the changes of a different protected land; these are Fort Howell; the Northridge Tract; the Museum Tract; Whooping Crane Conservancy; Cypress Conservancy. Planning for signs to be erected at each were under way, also plans for the upcoming celebration marking the 350th anniversary of the sighting of the island by Captain William Hilton, and the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Town of Hilton Head. There was discussion about erecting signs at each protected site. President Ed Batten gave a report on the discussion held at the last Town Council Meeting that dealt with trees and the airport runway and its impact on Fort Howell.

Q. Were the projected celebrations well attended?

A. Yes. And more added. In conjunction with the Mitchelville Preservations Project, a program that featured Mr. Asa Gordon, secretary general of the Sons and Daughters of the United States Colored Troops as speaker, was held in May, as was a 150-year celebration of Harriet Tubman.

And the signs are going up. There are now four signs at Fort Howell; a visitor cannot fail to know what went on there; there's a sign at Museum Street, at Hospital Boulevard, Beach City Road and at Automobile Place and Highway 278. They read: "This Property Protected by the Hilton Head Island Land Trust From Future Development and by the Town of Hilton Head."

One more thing. In the works: A Historic District designation along Beach City Road where there are many historic markers. Our board secretary, Marty Hocutt, is working on this; she has spent hundreds of hours in the past four years doing the research needed to achieve the success of our present and future projects.

Sixty-year master gardener and environmentalist Betsy Jukofsky has spent three decades on Hilton Head Island learning the peculiarities of Coastal Lowcountry gardening.