Over 1,000 acres in the Lynches River watershed are now conserved, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the McLeod family, Congaree Land Trust (CLT) and the Lynches River Conservation Fund housed at Central Carolina Community Foundation (CCCF). Now under conservation easement, Sequoyah Timberlands permanently protects three large tracts of privately owned land within the Lynches River watershed.
“The conservation of these three large tracts within the Little Lynches and Lynches River watersheds will keep a significant forest ecosystem area intact forever, supporting habitat for many wildlife species, enhancing air and water quality, and sustaining the rural economy of our state.” says Mary Crockett, CLT Land Protection Director. “We are grateful to the McLeod family and the Lynches River Conservation Board for partnering in the conservation of an important watershed within our state.”
Healthy watersheds require forested land to provide clean air and water to surrounding communities. These three tracts— located in Bethune (Kerhsaw County), Bishopville (Lee County) and Wisacky (Lee County)—comprise a total of 1,058.44 of forestland that will remain undeveloped forever.
The Bishopville tract provides an important conservation buffer to the adjoining Wetland Preserve Easement along the Lynches River floodplain, and enhances the conservation values of other protected properties in the vicinity, including the nearby 2,839-acre Lee State Park. Characterized by forestland and scrubby vegetation, grassland, and hedgerows not found in the surrounding agricultural landscape, the Wisacky tract supports high populations of birds and other wildlife. In Bethune, the tract is being restored to longleaf pine, one of the most threatened forest ecosystems in North America, which has experienced a 98% loss over the past 400 years. All three tracts tracts work in concert to preserve open space and rural character in an area where dispersed residential development is widespread.
The tracts were purchased with a grant award from the Lynches River Conservation Fund. The fund provides funding for land acquisition projects and easements to improve the water quality and ecological integrity of the Lynches River watershed.
“We are honored to support these efforts to conserve forest ecosystems,” says Erin Johnson, CCCF’s Vice President, Community Investment. “The stewardship of this land by Congaree Land Trust will contribute greatly to both Lee and Kershaw Counties.”
The Lynches River Conservation Fund Board consists of an elected official and representatives from Conservation Voters of South Carolina, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Winyah Rivers Foundation, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, and Haile Corporation. The fund is administered by Central Carolina Community Foundation.
The Lynches River is a renowned recreational resource in the state for fishing, hunting, camping and boating in South Carolina.
“My family has a longstanding connection to land in the area, with my McLeod ancestors from Scotland having settled in Lee County in the 1700s,” says landowner Frank McLeod. “I am happy to know we are protecting unique forested land for future generations to enjoy.”
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 82,556 acres, representing 176 individual conservation easements across 15 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 www.congareelt.org