Review: Ethic of environmental sustainability explored in Halfacre’s scholarly ‘Delicate Balance’

A Delicate Balance. By Angela C. Halfacre. University of South Carolina Press. 253 pages. $29.95.

Something magical happened in the Lowcountry in the past two decades, and because of it, this place remains like few others: miles of unbroken marshland and islands, soaring wood stork, coolers of game fish and shellfish.

Antagonistic landholders, conservationists and regulators realized they had something greater in common than their differences: They love where they live.

As development began to sprawl over the vast South Carolina seascape, the disparate groups started banding together to conserve its environs.

The movement started with seemingly disconnected “tipping points” such as the ACE Basin Task Force, the landmark public-private partnership formed to oppose plans to build a large marina in remote tidelands. The task force has conserved more than 350,000 acres in the wilds and wildlife rich delta of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers south of Charleston.

Similar and offshoot efforts evolved, working with each other to conserve so far some 800,000 acres in the Lowcountry, nearly 1 acre of every 20 in the state, and thousands more along the rest of the coast.

The movement has been one-of-a-kind, an eye opener waking the populace and development communities to more environmentally sustainable projects. It’s become a model imitated across the nation.

It may well be looked back on as one of the pivotal environmental movements of our time.

If it succeeds.

That’s what “A Delicate Balance” is about.

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