The S.C. Department of Natural Resources Habitat Protection Section protected five different properties during the 2006 calendar year, comprising 39,535 acres. It represents the largest annual amount of acreage ever protected in the history of the department.
The Habitat Protection Section, created in fall 2004, was established to work across division lines and coordinate all land protection efforts involving the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Heritage Trust Program and Scenic Rivers Program were integrated into a Habitat Protection Section under DNR’s Land, Water and Conservation Division. The section also coordinates the statewide Focus Area Initiative and the Forest Legacy Program.
During the calendar year, the DNR’s Habitat Protection Section protected five different properties in South Carolina. The properties, located in five different counties, were acquired using a variety of local, state and federal funds. Partnering with other conservation organizations proved essential in safeguarding these areas.
The five properties acquired by the DNR Habitat Protection Section during the 2006 calendar year included:
1) Fish Dam Ford Heritage Preserve, a 138-acre Revolutionary War battle site in Chester County where American forces defeated the British on Nov. 10, 1780.
2) A 14-acre addition to Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve in Lexington County, now 641 acres. The preserve represents a Native American site dating back 12,000 years.
3) A 434-acre addition to McBee Wildlife Management Area in Chesterfield County. The tract connects two separate parcels and forms a continuous area of 1,221 acres that is open for recreational activities.
4) Woodbury Wildlife Management Area, a 25,668-acre tract between the Great Pee Dee River and Little Pee Dee River in Marion County. The property adjoins the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge and protects about 38 miles of river frontage. DNR acquired a majority interest in the property and will obtain full ownership in 2007.
5) Hamilton Ridge, a 13,281-acre tract adjoining the department’s Webb Wildlife Center in Hampton County. The property protects upland and wetland areas that provide habitat for numerous wildlife, waterfowl and non-game species. Like the Woodbury property, DNR acquired a majority interest in Hamilton Ridge and will obtain full ownership in 2007.
The state’s Habitat Protection program is protecting the parts of South Carolina’s heritage that make the Palmetto State a unique and enjoyable place to live. These properties will be available for the education and enjoyment of current and future generations. The Heritage Trust Program is South Carolina’s oldest habitat protection program with a dedicated source of funds for property acquisition. Currently, 70 heritage preserves protect more than 81,000 acres statewide. Twenty-four preserves are available for public hunting as part of the DNR Wildlife Management Area program, which includes 46 different areas comprising more than one million acres.