Each year, MOTHER EARTH NEWS selects a handful of sustainable communities to highlight in our annual Great Places feature. Check out the other towns featured in our 2014 installment: 8 Great Places You’ve (Maybe) Never Heard Of.
Beaufort, South Carolina. While the travel brochures accurately tout Beaufort’s sophisticated Southern charm, one of the striking aspects of this beautiful small town in South Carolina’s Lowcountry is the determination of its citizens to care for the fragile coastal environment that makes Beaufort such a special place.
“Its natural beauty and extensive tidal waters and marshes set it apart,” says Reed Armstrong, project manager of the South Coast office of the Coastal Conservation League. “Three times since 2002, voters have overwhelmingly supported preservation of natural areas, wildlife habitat, farmland, and historic and cultural sites.”
Chartered in 1711, Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island and is South Carolina’s second-oldest city. Preservation measures have ensured that the town retains its antebellum architecture, and a number of military installations — including Parris Island, the U.S. Naval Hospital and Marine Corps Air Station — have made the community familiar to thousands who serve in the Armed Forces.
The Waddell Mariculture Center, ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Preserve, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge and Savannah National Wildlife Refuge all provide stewardship programs for the area’s water-based wildlife. Joining with the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement led by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, local residents helped build oyster reefs to enhance oyster colonies and protect water quality. Programs such as the Port Royal Sound Foundation, the Master Naturalist Program and Experience Green help educate citizens to protect waters and habitat.
Stats: Beaufort, South Carolina
Climate: 45” annual avg. precip.; January avg. high: 62 degrees F; July avg. high: 91 degrees F
Median Household Income: $49,056
Median Home Price: $245,900