CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Well-known non-profit leader Dana Beach will resign as Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation League later this year.
The announcement coincidentally comes a day before a public hearing for the I-526 ordinance for the extension project, which the group has been very outspoken against.
Beach, who said he's not resigning as a result of the I-526 project, said in a statement Monday, "We are well positioned to increase our effectiveness in the face of unprecedented changes that bring extraordinary new opportunities. This is an excellent time for me to step back from operations to focus on preparing the organization for the future."
While he may not be the face of the league moving forward, Beach said he will still be involved.
He plans to take on new responsibilities as a strategic advisor and fundraiser.
"The idea is to have a smooth transition to somebody who can be here another 25 years ideally," he said Tuesday.
Having founded the group in 1989, Beach said they've accomplished a lot and grown in staff.
"We were very much involved in passing Charleston County's comprehensive plan in 1999, and then in 2001 the zoning code," he said. "That's the single biggest change in policy at the county level that we've seen in a century."
Now Beach wants the group to focus on the future of the region, including the rising sea level here in Charleston as a result of what they say is climate change.
"Not only planning for it, but investing in better drainage," he said. "It means repairing and increasing the height of the battery. It means thinking differently about transportation infrastructure."
While the group is actively searching for a replacement, Beach said it won't distract employees from their current projects, including the I-526 extension debate.
"We argue it isn't a priority," he said. "It shouldn't consume all of the funds and even perhaps more importantly, all of the civic energy that we need to apply when preparing for the future."
Beach added he received a call from a county official about his resignation announcement.
"He said we don't always agree on things, but I want to let you know how much I appreciate what you're doing and I admire how you've done it," he said. "I said, it's mutual and I appreciate your generosity."
Beach said he also plans to write a new book detailing the history of the conservation league.
The Coastal Conservation League is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the coastal resources of South Carolina. Today with a staff of 35 employees in Charleston, Beaufort, Georgetown and Columbia, and a local food hub (GrowFood Carolina), the group works to protect the natural landscapes, wildlife, clean water, and traditional communities.