Land Trust raises funds to save Angel Oak land

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It appears money does grow on trees for the Angel Oak -- benefactors have raised enough money to protect land around the tree from development ventures.

The Lowcountry Open Land Trust confirmed Thursday afternoon that the nonprofit had raised the requisite $3.6 million to secure 17 acres of land adjacent to the historic tree.

"We are thrilled to announce that your collective efforts to purchase 17 acres near the Angel Oak were an extraordinary success. Thanks to contributions from nearly 10,000 individuals worldwide, we have met the deadline and exercised the option to secure the land," the group said on Facebook. "In fact, your support was so strong that we are now firmly focused on the second 17-acre tract. Stay tuned as we make history together!"

The land had been zoned for hundreds of apartments and commercial development, but the Land Trust was given until Sept. 30 to raised the money needed to complete the deal. The deadline was pushed back to Nov 21.

"The community not only stepped up to help in extraordinary ways, but they have also asked us to keep going," said Elizabeth Hagood, LOLT Executive Director. "As a result, we are extending this effort to November 21, in order to secure additional funds that could help us purchase a neighboring, 17 acre development tract."

"You don't want a beautiful oak tree in the middle of a sea of asphalt and that would have been what would have happened and so the benefit here is that not only in the Angel Oak itself available to be enjoyed by everybody, but also the context that the Angel Oak exists will be protected, too," said Dana Beach, Executive Director at Coastal Conservation League.

Lowcountry Open Land Trust wants to keep the land as natural as possible but would like to have some nature trails as well as have it available as an educational tool for nearby schools.

Earlier this month, the South Carolina Conservation Bank voted to give $890,000 to the trust, leaving the trust with only $500,000 to raise by Thursday.

The funding for the project was started by Charleston County Greenbelt Board, who fronted $2.4 million. Other major contributors include the Historic Charleston Foundation, Boeing and Blackbaud.

There were also thousands of other smaller contributions from individuals looking to protect the land.