Edisto Island Open Land Trust was organized in 1994 by concerned locals and property owners who feared Edisto was destined to become over developed and lost to commercialization like many other barrier islands on the coast. The original founders consisted of four local property owners who were quickly joined by additional Edisto natives, large and small land holders, and second home owners. All were united in a common goal to preserve Edisto.
The value of selling or donating development rights was easily recognized by many Edistonians who were concerned about the conservation of their property and their island as a whole. Donating property to EIOLT or by placing a conservation easement on property with EIOLT allows Edistonians to not only benefit from tax deductions, but also provides them with the ability to conserve the rural, natural land, landscape and vistas of Edisto. Retaining ownership while restricting future development rights allows property owners to pass their property down to heirs or future buyers while controlling the future development of Edisto.
While the majority of the property conserved by the EIOLT is privately held by property owners on Edisto, and not available to the public, many of the marsh views on the Island such as the “Mystery Tree” are part of the EIOLT conservation efforts. Edisto Island has approximately 51% of her total lands conserved through the efforts of EIOLT and other conservation partners. Believed to be the island with the largest percentage of undeveloped space on the east coast, Edisto will remain virtually untouched by subdivision and commercialization. The main efforts of EIOLT will continue to be conserving additional properties on Edisto and focused stewardship of the lands it currently conserves.