The Nature Conservancy, Pee Dee Land Trust and conservation partners protected more than 640 acres of environmentally and historically significant lands in the Plantersville community in Georgetown County, SC, this week. The Nature Conservancy secured funds from a wide array of sources in order to purchase these conservation easements. Pee Dee Land Trust agreed to hold and monitor the conservation easements in perpetuity.
Thomas McTeer and Mac Love of Columbia, SC, worked with Pee Dee Land Trust to identify the significant wildlife habitat and scenic views that their land provides; they used conservation easements to guarantee the protection of ecologically diverse wetlands and to contribute to the historically important and scenic rural character along Plantersville Road.
The funding strategy for the project was complex and depended upon the cooperation of numerous conservation interests. Grants and awards from WWW Foundation, Grissom Parkway Mitigation Group, and the South Carolina Environmental Law Project collectively made the project possible.
The Plantersville area is nationally recognized for its historic and ecological significance. Located within the Conservancy’s Winyah Bay and Pee Dee River Basin project area, the newly protected tracts complement the 50,700 acres previously protected by the Conservancy through public and private partnerships. A 525,000-acre project area, the boundary includes Sandy Island Preserve, Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge and DNR’s Samworth Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Woodbury WMA.
Landowners in the Plantersville community and adjacent lands on the east side of the Pee Dee River have voluntarily protected 8,263 acres through conservation easements. Many Plantersville landowners have also engaged in stewardship of their protected lands by implementing prescribed burning programs, invasive species control, and wildlife habitat improvements.
The majority of protected properties along the Pee Dee River are former rice plantations. In the mid-eighteenth century, these plantations enjoyed the largest per-capita income in the American colonies and by 1840, rice plantations of the Georgetown District produced one-half of the total rice crop of the United States. For the past 61 years, Prince George Episcopal Church has operated a highly successful plantation tour that focuses heavily on the Plantersville area.
The natural ecology of the area is also significant. “The longleaf pine forests, bottomland hardwoods, isolated wetlands, and rivers and streams of Plantersville and surrounding areas are all natural communities that we work to protect,” said Craig Sasser, Winyah Bay Task Force member and manager of the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge.
Sasser continued, “The state-endangered swallow-tailed kite builds its nests along the Pee Dee and forages over adjacent agricultural lands. This and other species of high priority, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and migratory waterfowl, will benefit from the collaborative protection effort in the Plantersville neighborhood.”
The greater Georgetown community and visitors to the area also benefit from land protection along the Winyah Bay river system: it lends to the natural beauty of the area, creates habitat for game and non-game species, provides land for agriculture and forestry, and provides opportunities for recreational activities like hunting, fishing, boating, and kayaking.
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.