Other Views

Banking on blessed land: SC needs permanent funding for Land and Water Conservation Fund | Opinion

St. Helena’s Marquetta Goodwine, also known as Queen Quet and chieftess of the Gullah-Geechee Nation, is featured prominently in a Weather.com video focusing on climate change.
St. Helena’s Marquetta Goodwine, also known as Queen Quet and chieftess of the Gullah-Geechee Nation, is featured prominently in a Weather.com video focusing on climate change.

The Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition (www.GullahGeechee.net) has fought to protect land for over the more than two decades that the organization has been in existence. I have personally fought for the same thing for almost four decades.

Over that period of time, the tools that could be used in the field in which we toiled changed from those that my ancestors had to use on the sacred ground that got renamed from “Chicora” to “Carolina” to “South Carolina” wherein part of the Sea Islands lie.

Upon the Sea Islands our culture grew in North America and to that end these Sea Islands and Lowcountry are part of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.

We hold our homeland and the rest of the state as sacred ground and blessed land and that is why we remain on it, seeking to keep the land quality and the water quality at its optimum.

Healthy land and water leads to healthy lifestyles of the people living therein and to that end, we have literally banked on our blessed Carolina land.

The mechanisms that allowed us to bank on the land are the South Carolina Conservation Bank and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The latter has existed for over five decades. When it began, the Land and Water Conservation Fund money was intended to protect national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges from development, and to provide matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects.

Over the years, LWCF has also grown and evolved to include grants to protect working forests, wildlife habitat, critical drinking water supplies and disappearing battlefields, as well as increased use of easements. Thus, adding more tools to the conservation box over time.

The economy of South Carolina has been positively impacted due to the LWCF’s investment in open spaces, historic sites, and recreational areas to the tune of $300 million.

These are places that not only the citizens of the state enjoy, but that tourists visit by the millions, spending $16.3 billion in the outdoor recreation industry, which supports 151,000 jobs that generate $4.6 billion in wages and salaries and produces $1.1 billion annually in state and local tax revenue.

With all this in mind, this proves that investing in the beauty of our state provides a massive return! Two-thirds of the tourism funds come from the Gullah/Geechee Nation’s coast which we call the Lowcountry.

However, LWCF is high on the list of things that contribute to the place of “beautiful places and smiling faces.”

We are definitely smiling on the Sea Islands due to this great decision and look forward to celebrating permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund via S. 1081: Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act!

So, to our congressional representatives and senators, we are banking on you now to help keep our blessed lands of Carolina protected.

LCWF has protected our beautiful majestic oaks standing down by the riverside where we can shout together and give thanks together for our Carolina treasures. I look forward to standing with you in celebration on our coast.

Marquetta L. Goodwine of St. Helena Island is known as Queen Quet and chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. She is founder of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition.

  Comments