Lowcountry Land Conservation
We offer general operating and project-specific grants that lead to landscape-scale land preservation and stewardship. We support efforts throughout the Lowcountry of South Carolina with an emphasis on five focus areas: ACE Basin, Charleston Greenbelt, Sewee to Santee, South Lowcountry, and Winyah Bay. Together, these areas span the entire coast. We also encourage and participate in strategic land conservation partnerships.
To Protect and Restore
There is a rich tradition of public and private land conservation throughout the Lowcountry. To date, more than a million and a quarter acres have been preserved along the South Carolina coast (see map at right). Growth projections for the region, however, underscore the need to build upon these conservation gains. We support organizations working to further increase the size and health of the Lowcountry’s protected areas on a landscape-scale. Occasionally, when opportunities arise to preserve lands of exceptional strategic significance, we offer Program Related Investments as bridge funding.
To Grow Stronger
Protecting more natural areas and traditional working lands is a big job. Stewarding it long-term is an even bigger job. That’s why we offer general operating grants to sustain land conservation organizations, as well as capacity-building grants to help them meet expanded land conservation opportunities. We also encourage partnerships and collaborations to enhance our region's conservation goals.
To Advocate Change
Some land conservation happens with easements or fee simple transactions. Some with teams of volunteer stewards. Some occurs at the policy level. For this reason, we support strategic efforts to align regional planning and implementation with established land conservation goals.
The ACE Basin is considered the most pristine estuary on the Atlantic coast. It is a place where abundant pine forests flourish alongside vast fresh and saltwater marshes and is considered to be among the best places for duck hunting and nature observation in the country. To date more than half of the 350,000 core acres within the Basin have been preserved. The public-private effort serves as a national model for successful engagement in large-scale conservation efforts.
The Charleston metropolitan area currently accounts for a third of all population growth in the state. The City of Charleston and the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments have adopted strong plans that focus development, while land trusts and others strive to protect the rural character of lands beyond the designated growth boundaries.
Sewee to Santee
Francis Marion National Forest and Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge represent the largest intact forest and salt marsh habitats on the coast of South Carolina. Together, they anchor nearly half a million acres of conserved lands in the Sewee to Santee region. Efforts are underway to further enhance the richness of the region by closing land preservation gaps.
The area surrounding the historic town of Beaufort and stretching to the Georgia border is a mosaic of natural and developed areas, as diverse as the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is from Hilton Head Island. A key feature of this landscape is the Savannah River, a 2.5 million acre watershed, of which 350,000 has been permanently protected.
Winyah Bay Watershed
Fed by five rivers, the Winyah Bay watershed is among the largest tributary systems on the East Coast. The vast wetlands of this river complex provide ample habitat for ducks, geese, wood storks, ospreys and rare swallow-tailed kites. The area's fifty-seven miles of protected riparian lands are threatened by continued development pressures.