Safeguarding Farmland in Barnwell County
329.92 acres of privately owned farmland in Barnwell County are now conserved, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Congaree Land Trust (CLT), the South Carolina Conservation Bank (SCCB) and the Bedingfield family. Now under conservation easement, Wild Turkey Creek Farm will remain a working family farm, preserving precious open land for agriculture and timber forever.
“This legacy farm is a great example of how South Carolina farming families can take advantage of conservation easement programs to safeguard agricultural lands for future generations,” says Mary Crockett, CLT Land Protection Director. “It has been a pleasure working with the Bedingfield family, furthering our commitment to conserve private land for agriculture, while protecting wildlife habitat, Carolina Bays, and riparian areas to improve air and water quality for all.”
Wild Turkey Creek Farm, named after a tributary of the Salkehatchie River on the property, is a part of the ACE Basin (Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto Rivers), one of the largest wetland ecosystems on the Atlantic coast. The property consists of a diverse ecosystem including loblolly and longleaf pine stands, bottomland hardwoods, approximately five (5) acres of an old Carolina Bay, and nearly a mile of forested wetlands along Turkey Creek. These wetlands help filter water flowing to the Salkehatchie River before entering the Atlantic Ocean, and support an abundance of wildlife.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Congaree Land Trust on saving important wildlife habitat and sustaining water quality in the Salkehatchie River watershed,” says Raleigh West, SCCB Director.
Bird life is abundant on the property, as the farm’s name suggests. Sixteen (16) species of birds considered of conservation priority concern by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are found here, from wading birds, such as green herons, to Neotropical migratory birds like the black-throated blue warbler, scarlet tanager, and wood thrush. Turkey Creek provides important habitat for freshwater aquatic species and helps maintain recreational water quality of the Salkehatchie, which originates in the city of Barnwell and flows on to the Combahee River and into Saint Helena Sound before entering the Atlantic Ocean.
In addition to timber, the Bedingfields grow and sell seasonal agricultural crops like corn, watermelon, and others. An old historic farmhouse from the early 1900s still sits on the property.
“We are excited to conserve, protect and enjoy our property for many years to come,” landowner Will Bedingfield says. “It has been a pleasure to work with both Congaree Land Trust and S.C. Conservation Bank on our conservation easement.”
Wild Turkey Creek Farm is part of the ACE Basin Focus Area which is a conservation project consisting of over 160,000 acres of private and public lands. The property joins 16,458 acres of prime farmland in central South Carolina that are permanently protected by CLT through conservation easements, as well as over 1,500 acres currently conserved by CLT in the Salkehatchie River watershed. Conserving these lands the health of our watersheds, protects water quality for citizens and enriches the natural resource economy of our state.
About Congaree Land Trust
The Congaree Land Trust (CLT) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization committed to conserving the natural and scenic lands in central South Carolina. Since 1992, CLT has conserved 80,678 acres, representing 172 individual conservation easements across 14 counties. Conservation easements help protect the natural areas that fuel our state’s natural resource-based economy and define our way of life. Learn more about CLT’s work at https://congareelt.org.