With the closing of an approximately 1,865-acre conservation easement in Kershaw County, the Congaree Land Trust (CLT) recently surpassed a milestone of protecting 60,000 acres of state land. According to a CLT press release, the latest easement borders Spears Creek and the Wateree River and brings the total of protected land to approximately 61,300 acres.
The most recent easement closing took place on property located within the Cowasee Basin, one of CLT’s primary focus areas for land protection. It is also part of the Wateree River Conservation Corridor, a large expanse of more than 25,000 acres of connected private properties along both sides of the Wateree River in Kershaw, Richland and Sumter counties. The corridor includes the state’s newest wildlife management area and the Wateree River Heritage Preserve, which is managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
“This has been an exciting time for our land trust and we would not be able to realize these milestones without the partnership of the South Carolina Conservation Bank,” CLT Executive Director Stuart White said. “The Conservation Bank has proven to be an important resource in the business of land conservation across our state and its support, coupled with new federal tax incentives, will continue to have a significant impact as we work with landowners on future conservation easements.”
According to the press release, Studies show farming, forestry, outdoor recreation and tourism tied to our natural resources contribute about $54 billion to the state’s economy and provide 463,000 jobs. Conservation easements help protect the natural areas that fuel South Carolina’s natural resource-based economy and define our way of life.
“Landowners not only protect the land through conservation easements, but also help to ensure the future of our natural habitats which are home to many important species of fauna and flora,” CLT Land Protection Director Mary Crockett said. “The Congaree Land Trust has helped to connect thousands of acres of contiguous woodlands and wildlife corridors that will play an important role in preserving our local natural landscape.”
The CLT is in its third decade of conserving South Carolina’s scenic lands to help preserve the visual landscape, protect water and air quality by creating buffers around the central South Carolina river systems, and making it possible for the same recreational and agricultural opportunities the public enjoys today to continue in the future. Founded in 1992, CLT works to establish conservation easements for landowners in a 12-county area of central South Carolina, including Kershaw, Bamberg, Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and Williamsburg counties.