The Nature Conservancy announced the permanent protection of 1,218 acres in the Savannah River Basin of South Carolina, an area that provides drinking water for more than 500,000 South Carolina and Georgia residents.
“Lowlands is a shining example of how South Carolina does conservation so well,” commented Dale Threatt-Taylor, TNC's executive director in South Carolina. “The family gets to keep ownership of their land, while our business and conservation communities and the state invest in protecting its natural resources. Those resources—including clean drinking water—benefit us all.”
The Hampton County property, known as Lowlands, remains family-owned and will continue to be managed for forestry, wildlife and recreational uses on the uplands. A permanent buffer of bottomland hardwoods along more than two miles of Long Branch Creek has been set aside and will never be harvested to ensure water quality in the Savannah River.
“The Lowlands conservation easement is part of a visionary watershed protection effort in the South Lowcountry. Simply stated, it’s much less expensive to take proactive, natural measures to maintain good water quality than it is to treat unclean water,” commented Dr. David Bishop, coastal and midlands conservation director. “The protection of this property contributes to a complex of nearly 130,000 acres of protected land along the Savannah River made possible in part by the Savannah River Clean Water Fund. This is the fourth easement the Elliott family has done with TNC in recent years, which is a remarkable commitment to conservation in South Carolina.”
The Savannah River Clean Water Fund, established in 2014, brings together landowners, five water utilities and industry from two states to conserve forests for the benefits they provide to drinking water, local economies and wildlife. International Paper (IP) was the first private sector company to join the fund and provided a financial contribution to secure this conservation easement.
“Healthy forests are the heart of our stewardship values at International Paper,” commented Sophie Beckham, vice president and chief sustainability officer at IP. “We are proud of our partnership with TNC in supporting the Savannah River Clean Water Fund which will have a real impact on healthy and productive ecosystems within our communities.”
The South Carolina Conservation Bank has contributed $44,682,605 to 93 land protection projects in the Savannah River Basin and made a major grant to secure this conservation easement. “Lowlands and the adjoining privately-owned, protected properties provide public benefits well beyond their boundaries,” remarked Raleigh West, director, South Carolina Conservation Bank. “The Nature Conservancy’s ability to work at such a significant scale is to the benefit of the residents of Savannah, Hilton Head, Beaufort and the communities in between.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.