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Open Space Institute Secures ‘Ingleside’ Properties to Create North Charleston’s Largest Park

Image Credit: Craig Sasser

CHARLESTON, SC (Nov. 9, 2023)—The Open Space Institute (OSI), the Charleston County Greenbelt Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of North Charleston, and the South Carolina Conservation Bank announced a significant conservation success for the greater Charleston region: purchase of the “Ingleside Park” properties by the City of North Charleston. Conservation of this land lays the groundwork for the creation of a vibrant, centrally located park in North Charleston on the grounds of the former Ingleside/Hayes plantation.

The last remaining undeveloped acres of the former historic plantation, the eight tracts comprising the 445-acre future park form a natural oasis in the center of a region rife with mixed-use development. Ingleside Park will feature approximately 100 acres of forested highlands, including ancient live oaks, and 340 acres of wetlands.

The Ingleside/Hayes Plantation was one of the earliest inland rice plantations in Charleston, settled between 1690 and 1716. It remained a working plantation for almost 200 years and was likely the last site of commercial inland rice production in the Carolinas. A centuries-old open area will serve as a core area of the park, with trails threading through former working rice fields and connecting to nearby scenic public areas including Wannamaker County Park.

“The Open Space Institute is proud to have been a lead partner in this major North Charleston conservation and open space victory,” said Nate Berry, OSI’s Chief Land Protection Officer. “This unique park will surely be a source of city pride and an opportunity to remember the struggles and triumphs of the past. OSI thanks the Charleston County Greenbelt Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the South Carolina Conservation Bank for their support and partnership.”

The Open Space Institute facilitated the purchase by successfully writing grant applications for $6 million of local, state, and federal grants. The Charleston County Greenbelt Program contributed approximately $4 million to the City of North Charleston for the acquisition, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetlands Grant Program and the S.C. Conservation Bank contributed $1 million each.

“The Service applauds the perpetual protection of this historic property that resulted from the collaboration of key conservation partners at the S.C. Conservation Bank and the Open Space Institute,” said Jason Ayers, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's South Carolina Coastal Program Coordinator. “The S.C. Conservation Bank has now funded the protection of six strategic coastal properties through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant program. These properties are vital in maintaining the ecological integrity of our coastal watersheds and to the species that depend on irreplaceable coastal wetlands such as those found on Ingleside Plantation," he added.

To make the acquisition possible, the properties’ owners discounted the sale price of Ingleside Park by several million dollars, while retaining trail easements on previously sold, adjacent properties that will now connect Ingleside Park to Wannamaker Park and other natural areas.

Roughly bounded by U.S. Highway 78, Interstate 26, Ingleside Plantation Road and Ingleside Boulevard on the city’s northern end, Ingleside Park lies within a 20 minute drive of more than one million people.

Ecological Importance of Ingleside Park

By protecting forested wetlands near the Ingleside/Weber development, Ingleside Park plays an important role in absorbing and slowing area floodwaters, safeguarding homes, businesses and infrastructure even as sea levels rise, and severe weather becomes more frequent.

Protection of Ingleside Park helps to meet the conservation objectives for at least 15 regional, state, and federal wetland habitat conservation plans, including the South Carolina State Wildlife Action Plan (S.C. SWAP). The S.C. SWAP identifies habitat for 109 species of conservation concern on the properties, including 27 that are federally or state listed, such as swallow-tailed kite, southeastern myotis, and spotted turtle. Colonial wading birds including the federally threatened wood stork, white Ibis, and herons are also on the property.

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