Press Release: Upper Savannah Trust Reaches 40,000 Acres Conserved

UPPER SAVANNAH LAND TRUST REACHES 40,000 ACRES CONSERVED

Hamp Warner

Hamp Warner signs a conservation easement which makes a total of 40,055 acres that the Upper Savannah Land Trust is protecting for future generations. Hamp and his brother Bill have placed conservation easements on other properties they own.

For Immediate Release: May 7, 2016

Contact:  Wallace Wood, 864-993-5012, wwd@wctel.net

Greenwood:  The Upper Savannah Land Trust, a Greenwood based conservation organization serving eight western South Carolina counties, announced today that it has reached a milestone by protecting over 40,000 acres of land.  Two new easements in Greenwood and McCormick Counties have helped reach the impressive land protection goal. These additions give USLT the fifth most acres protected of 24 land trusts in South Carolina.

USLT was able to reach the milestone by adding two new easements to its list of conserved lands.  Bal and Katherine Ballentine placed 236 acres in Greenwood and McCormick Counties under easement. The Property is part of the Cuffeytown Creek Watershed which combines with Hard Labor Creek to form Stevens Creek, a major watershed in the area with ecology that is among the most diverse in the southeastern United States.

Hamp and Bill Warner added to their lands under easement by placing an additional 72 acres in the lower section of Greenwood County. The property is a part of the Long Cane Creek Watershed, which is one of the top southeastern watersheds for conservation of aquatic diversity.  It is one of the most diverse aquatic systems in South Carolina and home of the endangered Carolina Heel Splitter.

“To tell the truth, I didn’t believe it at first,” says Wallace Wood, Executive Director of Upper Savannah Land Trust.  “I knew we were doing well but had no idea we were among the State’s leaders in land conservation.”

What Wood is referring to is The Nature Conservancy’s release of acres protected by South Carolina’s 24 local land trusts.  The figures reveal that Upper Savannah is fifth in the state among local land trusts in acres protected.  The Nature Conservancy maintains a data base of protected lands in the state.

These two easements moved the acres preserved by USLT to 40,055. “Over our 15 years in operation,” says USLT Chairwoman Rossie Corwon, “we have preserved 40,055 acres that will be there for future generations for farming, forestry, scenic views, wildlife habitat, water quality enhancement and protection of special places. We are so excited to be among the leaders in land conservation.”

USLT is also proud of what land it protects.  “We have preserved large areas in the Stevens and Turkey Creek Watersheds,” says Wood.  “These streams and adjoining land are listed as one of the most diverse ecosystems in the southeastern United States.  Limiting development in these types of areas and where there are working farms and forest is really what the land conservation movement is all about.”

“One other consideration,” says Corwon, “we are the most efficient land conservation organization in South Carolina. Other land trusts have large staffs of anywhere from three to 20 people. We have managed this success with one part time executive director.  Everyone works together at USLT.  From our executive director, to the Board of Directors, to the committed landowners, and to our contributing members, I think USLT exemplifies what a community land trust is all about.  Everyone works hard to fulfill our mission.”

USLT protects land for future uses mainly through the use of conservation easements.  With a donated easement, a landowner gives up some development rights but retains the right to keep it in farming, forestry, horticulture or other natural resource related enterprise.  In exchange for the relinquishment of development rights, the landowner receives federal and state income and estate tax incentives to do so.

For more information, check out the USLT web site at www.scuslt.com or call the USLT office at 864-941-8078.

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