2016 Highlights

Our Top Conservation Successes of the Year

Many people look to nature for inspiration and encouragement. This year, nature looked to you.

From protecting clean drinking water to safeguarding our coastlines, you made incredible work possible in South Carolina in 2016. From all of us at The Nature Conservancy, thank you for caring – and acting. You gave us much to celebrate this year!

PROTECTING CRITICAL LANDS

Celebrating Sandy Island’s 20th Anniversary: In 1996, state and federal agencies, non-profits and South Carolinians came together to protect Sandy Island Preserve, making this year its 20th anniversary! This 9,164-acre freshwater island near Georgetown is home to public hiking trails, native longleaf pine forests and 45 active family groups of federally endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers (a 20 percent increase from 1997). Relive the fight to save Sandy Island.

PROTECTING CRITICAL LANDS

Volunteers Giving Back: Volunteers donated more than 1,230 hours this year helping us build oyster reefs, clean up preserves, monitor easements, take photos and digitize files. We’re incredibly grateful to all who gave their time. Contact our volunteer coordinator about getting started!

FRESH WATER

Restoring Savannah River Flows: Our scientists made big progress on a study to restore the Savannah River. The natural flow of a river resembles a healthy human heartbeat, with heavy rains periodically sending large pulses of water downstream and intermittent dry periods allowing new trees to take root. Dams can flatten that pulse, so we’re working with the U.S. Army Corps to replicate more natural flows. Find out how restoring natural flows helps songbirds.

FRESH WATER

Keeping Water Clean: Through the generosity of the Elliott family, The Nature Conservancy protected 1,539 acres along the Savannah River with a conservation easement. The property includes 1.3 miles of river frontage – where its trees filter runoff and help keep drinking water clean – and is home to some massive swamp tupelo trees. See the announcement on Facebook.

OCEANS AND COASTS

Protecting Whale Habitat: In April 2015, the Conservancy submitted data from its new ocean-mapping report to show that endangered North Atlantic right whales needed more protection for their calving grounds. This January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the “critical habitat” area for the whales was being expanded! Learn about other ways the mapping is being used.

OCEANS AND COASTS

Building Oyster Reefs: More than 150 volunteers helped us build a 240-foot oyster reef over three days in April. The reef will help restore a coastal marsh off Goldbug Island in Mt. Pleasant, as well as clean our water and provide habitat for fish, crabs and shrimp. See the drone video!

FORESTS 

Planning for Healthy Forests: The Conservancy is proud to have worked with the U.S. Forest Service on the creation of a plan for Francis Marion National Forest, the first update since 1996! We’re excited that the new place seeks to restore 91,000 acres of native longleaf pine – almost double the previous goal. For people, that means more open, “park-like” forests. For wildlife, it means better, safer, healthier homes. Find out why longleaf pine is important.

FORESTS

Promoting Good Fire: The Conservancy and partners focused on putting “good fire” on the ground this year to improve wildlife habitat and remove scrubby undergrowth that can fuel dangerous wildfires. Altogether, our fire crews applied safe, effective controlled burns to 21,200 acres across the state. Learn more about controlled burning.

PUBLIC POLICY

Protecting Our Coasts: In June, the South Carolina General Assembly approved S. 139, a bill that establishes a boundary limiting beachfront construction to specially permitted structures. We’re proud to have been part of the effort to pass this bill. It’s fantastic news for the people and businesses who love and depend on our state’s 200 miles of coastline. See how else we’re protecting our coasts.

PUBLIC POLICY

Fighting for the Conservation Bank: The Conservation Bank is the single most important source of state funding for land protection in South Carolina. If the Bank isn’t reauthorized in the next legislative session, though, it expires for good. The Conservancy became a founding member this year of the Palmetto Land + Water Legacy Alliance, a group of farmers, landowners, foresters and conservation organizations fighting to save the Bank. Join the fight!

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