An important addition of 361 acres has been added to the Jocassee Gorges complex in northern Pickens County. The Smoak/Cathcart Addition to Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve is on the North Carolina state line and protects the northern boundary of the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges.
The 361 acres is an addition to Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve within Jocassee Gorges. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) purchased the land from Chinquapin Hollow Inc. for $2,404,260 with funds from the Heritage Land Trust Fund. This was below the appraised value of $2,530,000. The owners of the property were Lois Cathcart of Chapin and Copley Smoak of Arkansas, formerly of South Carolina.
"I want to congratulate the DNR for its effort to acquire this property," said state Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens. "This addition to the Jocassee Gorges will allow protection of the northern boundary of Jocassee and provide the people of South Carolina more beautiful areas to enjoy."
The 361-acre addition to Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve, which features mature forests of oak, hickory, hemlock, white pine and yellow poplar, as well as the headwaters of Rock Creek, is land that was prime for development, according to DNR.
"If we had not gotten this land, there would have been large houses overlooking the upper portion of the Jocassee Gorges tract," said Mark Hall, DNR Jocassee Gorges project manager. The land, known as Chinquapin Hollow, adjoins the north side of Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve in the heart of the Jocassee Gorges.
The former owners wished this land to be protected in a natural state and worked with DNR to sell the land below market value. "We can all be grateful that DNR saw fit to protect this area," said Copley Smoak, one of the owners. "It will be part of a wild treasure, saved for us and for future generations."
DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.