Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) announced today that it will permanently protect 1,105 acres of ecologically significant land in South Carolina’s coastal plain through a conservation easement. The protected land is home to the Coldwater Branch Stream and Wetland Mitigation Bank at Brosnan Forest, Norfolk Southern’s 14,400-acre timber and wildlife preserve 35 miles northwest of Charleston in Dorchester, South Carolina.
This easement furthers the company’s wetlands conservation and restoration initiatives that benefit the environment, economic growth, and nearby communities. The easement is the third easement donated by the company to the Lowcountry Land Trust (LLT). LLT is one of the leading land trusts in the United States and currently protects over 150,000 acres of ecologically significant lands in South Carolina. Brosnan Forest is the largest easement in LLT’s portfolio.
“Restoration projects like Coldwater Branch reflect Norfolk Southern’s long-term vision of how conservation and business can work together to benefit local communities, our stakeholders, and the environment – bringing together the three pillars of sustainability,” said Josh Raglin, Chief Sustainability Officer for Norfolk Southern. “Brosnan Forest inspires how we think about sustainability as the heart of our business; it is a model of sustainable forest management and a leader in forest carbon programs to address climate change. Lowcountry Land Trust continues to be a critical, long-term partner in helping us protect this land for future generations.”
Brosnan Forest Conservation Easement Timeline
- 2008: Protected 12,488 acres at Brosnan Forest through an easement granted to LLT – one of the largest ever given by a corporation in South Carolina and one of the largest in the Southeast.
- 2015: Second donation added 290 additional acres of restored pocosin wetlands under permanent easement protection.
- 2022: Raglin announced the 1,105-acre Coldwater Branch easement on April 26 at a Sustainability Summit hosted in partnership with Sustain SC to bring together sustainability leaders in business and state government.
“Lowcountry Land Trust is proud to continue its strong partnership with Norfolk Southern by holding the conservation easement on Coldwater Branch, the latest commitment by the company to stabilize and restore a vital stream complex in Dorchester County, South Carolina,” said Ashley Demosthenes, President & CEO of Lowcountry Land Trust. “Restoration of these natural landscapes will provide multiple direct and indirect benefits to the site and the region, including improvements to ecological function, air and water quality, wildlife habitat, and local communities.”
The Coldwater Branch project is restoring more than 6 miles of streams and 1,105 acres of wetlands and adjacent upland buffers. Restoration efforts include closing drainage ditches and reestablishing meandering stream channels, streamside vegetation, flood plain and groundwater connections, and native plant species such as sweet bay, pond cypress, black gum, blueberries, honeycup, and fetterbush. In total, over 300,000 native plants will be planted, representing 23 distinct species of native vegetation.
Over time, cumulative and downstream benefits will also be seen, as the effects of improvements to this headwater stream multiply. The restoration will improve water quality and reduce impacts from flooding in downstream communities including the nearby Four Holes Swamp and the greater Edisto River Basin.
The construction phase of the Coldwater Branch project is expected to be completed in early 2023.
Norfolk Southern’s Brosnan Forest has evolved from a source of timber for rail operations in the 1800s, to a demonstration forest in the early part of the 20th century, to a model of modern forest management today. It is now part of one of the largest intact coastal ecosystems on the East Coast. Brosnan Forest is home to a diverse ecosystem that includes one of the country’s largest remaining stands of longleaf pine which shelters the largest population of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers on private property under single ownership – a safe haven that has been critical to their recovery. To learn more about Norfolk Southern’s ongoing efforts to build a better planet, visit www.nscorp.com/sustainability.
About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies, moving the goods and materials that drive the U.S. economy. Norfolk Southern connects customers to markets and communities to economic opportunity, with safe, reliable, and sustainable shipping solutions. The company’s service area includes 22 states and the District of Columbia, every major container port in the eastern United States, and a majority of the U.S. population and manufacturing base.
About the Lowcountry Land Trust
Founded in 1986, the Lowcountry Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission to honor the relationship between people and land by protecting irreplaceable Lowcountry lands and treasured places. Lowcountry Land Trust has protected over 150,000 acres across 17 counties in South Carolina. More information about Lowcountry Land Trust is available at www.lowcountrylandtrust.org.