The Nature Conservancy has purchased a conservation easement on Palmetto Plantation near McClellanville, SC. The Conservancy purchased the easement below fair market value from members of the DuPre family with a grant from the Charleston County Greenbelt Program. “On behalf of the Greenbelt Bank, we were extremely pleased to participate in the protection of this significant property” states Hugh Lane, chair of the Greenbelt Bank Board. “This waterfront property is unique due to its location between two major conservation sites of regional significance along the Atlantic Coast now afforded critical buffers.”
The property is bounded by one mile of deep water frontage along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway with a spectacular view of Lighthouse Island, one of several islands comprising the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. The property also is located within the boundary of the Francis Marion National Forest with forest types similar to that of the adjacent federal lands, including longleaf pine. It consists of 468 acres of upland forest and 317 acres of wetlands including freshwater managed wetlands and tidal salt marsh.
“Palmetto Plantation is a magnificent property. The DuPres have been thoughtful stewards of Palmetto for many years and have demonstrated a strong commitment to conservation in the Sewee to Santee region. Their contribution will ensure the protection of the natural integrity of this area in perpetuity” says Ashley Demosthenes, Associate Director of Land Protection for the Conservancy’s SC Chapter. “Protection of strategic inholdings within the Forest and the Refuge are critical to stabilizing the landscape, preserving water quality of Bulls Bay Estuary and supporting traditional land uses that enhance the rural economy,” she adds. “Bulls Bay estuary is one of the healthiest and most productive estuaries remaining on Earth, with outstanding populations of fish, shellfish, and shorebirds. Maintaining adjacent lands in forests and other natural cover is critical to maintaining that health and productivity into the future,” says Eric Krueger, Director of Science and Stewardship for the Conservancy’s SC Chapter.
Located within the Conservancy’s Sewee to Santee Project Area, Palmetto Plantation complements years of conservation efforts by the Conservancy and its private and public partners. In 2004, the Conservancy purchased 1,000-acre Jeremy Island, located across the waterway from Palmetto (shown on map), from the DuPre Family and conveyed it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for incorporation into Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Cape Romain refuge is a designated Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve, providing critical habitat to thousands of migratory shorebirds in the Atlantic Flyway annually. Along those lines, it is only fitting that Palmetto Plantation is the annual starting point for the McClellanville Christmas Bird Count, where dozens of avid birdwatchers from the community come together to identify and count the vast number of bird species migrating across the coast. “With the Conservancy securing a conservation easement on Palmetto Plantation, a wide diversity of habitats will be protected and managed for high priority breeding, migrating, and wintering species along the Atlantic Flyway. Additionally, by providing these habitats and supporting these bird populations at this local scale, Palmetto Plantation will contribute to regional, national, and hemispheric bird population goals" says Craig Watson, South Atlantic Coordinator for the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Birds.
“The meeting of the forest and the sea is a place of wonder and inspiration. Our family is very pleased to be able to help preserve this precious resource” said John DuPre, co-owner and manager of Palmetto.
To date, the Conservancy has protected 52,516 acres in the Sewee to Santee conservation area through land acquisitions and conservation easements.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.