South Carolina Landowner William L. Exley has come back to nature. Billy spent his childhood enjoying the natural beauty of his land, and just last year, those memories inspired him to work with the Conservancy to protect this land through a conservation easement.
“I love this land, and I want to protect it forever,” said Exley, who spent time as a kid hunting and exploring the plantation with his father. “The beauty is that I still own my property. With this easement, The Nature Conservancy will safeguard my land’s conservation values in perpetuity. They will monitor and defend my easement so the land won’t be compromised, and that makes me feel good.”
Exley’s land – the Recess Plantation – not only connects to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge but it also helps to shield the Savannah River from sediment and pollutants.
Part of the land includes seven miles of floodplain forest along the Savannah River that provides habitat for a number of bird species, including rare wood storks, white ibis, swallow-tailed kites, and a wide variety of songbirds. The forests are also home to dozens of species of reptiles and amphibians, as well as deer and wild turkey—giving it appeal for hunting and traditional uses.
But perhaps the most significant “win” of the land deal is the fact that acres of forests are now protected along the Savannah River, helping to keep it clean and free of pollutants and sediment.
“The Savannah River is the source of drinking water for the people who live in Hilton Head, Bluffton, and all of Beaufort and Jasper counties,” said Eric Krueger, director of science and stewardship at the Conservancy. “The water intake is just downriver from Recess Plantation. It’s been well documented that keeping land along rivers undeveloped reduces the occurrence of polluted runoff and protects water quality. This conservation easement does that.”
“Under Billy’s management and thoughtful stewardship,” said Krueger, “the dignity and integrity of this property shall be preserved for generations to come.”October 26, 2011
Megan Sheehan is a web writer and producer for The Nature Conservancy.