Dana Beach

2015 Hero of the Seas

Protecting the air, water and landscape that make South Carolina a special place has been Dana Beach’s life’s work. He was twenty-eight when he quit his job as a New York investment banker, got married and went on his honeymoon to Rwanda, where he and his wife were transformed by the gentle touch of a young gorilla. He returned from this experience and founded the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League. Today, the Columbia S.C. native is his state’s most prominent and influential environmentalist.

Dana Beach has systematically built an eco-political powerhouse that dwarfs other environmental groups in the state. As the state’s population has expanded into once pristine rural areas so have threats to its ecological balance — particularly along the coast. Along with successfully fighting industrial hog farms, coal plants and other unsound development his group and its partners have protected over a million acres of South Carolina’s spectacular coastline.