Coastal Conference Promotes Environmental Protection

The often difficult equation of how to promote development while protecting the environment is being tackled on the coast this week.

Environmentalists and developers are discussing that challenge during the second annual "Coastal Development Strategies Conference".

Fragile wetlands often stand in the way of potential development along the coast. The challenge of this conference is finding ways environmentalists and developers can work together.

Glade Woods is the former director of the Department of Marine Resources. He says the conference opens the lines of communication between environmentalists and developers.

"Working around conservation issues. Giving them the designing criteria if you will on the front end, before they put large amounts of money into their planning, and then saying, hold it, you've got problems here."

Those attending the conference are learning the latest methods of protecting coastal environments while still accommodating growth.

Dr. Charles Campell is a professor of economics at Mississippi State University.  He says developers are discovering that they can help preserve the environment, while still making money.

"The amenities have become much more important. A lot of us used to just look for a box to live in, and now we're looking for a nice place to live in. So, if you can fit your wetlands into that you can still make money."

A growing number of architects and developers are not only finding creative ways of working around wetlands, they are also finding ways of incorporating wetlands into their designs. It allows them not only to help preserve the environment, but it also enhances their projects and developments.

Building houses closer together is one means of lessening a project's impact. Architect, Clayton Preston, says you can have successful projects that are also environmentally friendly.

"If you leave the green space undisturbed, you're addressing 75 percent of the market, where a golf course community is addressing about 25 percent of the market. And it's free. All you have to do is not disturb it."

Those attending the conference will discover the latest ways of developing the scenic coast, while trying not to disturb the fragile environment.