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July 9, 2010

S.C. Conservation Bank protects 4,100 acres

The South Carolina Conservation Bank Board met July 1 and funded seven grants totaling 4,100 acres of significant lands located statewide for conservation.

The Conservation Bank received $1.5 million from the state legislature in the 2010-2011 budget to apply towards the $4.5 million in grant commitments it had previously made but was unable to fund due to budget restrictions of the past two years. The Conservation Bank still has 31 grant applications for 23,049 acres at a cost of $20 million, with a fair market value of $77 million, which have not yet been reviewed.

Five of the grants funded July 1 by the Conservation Bank were for small family farms that had federal matching funds as a requirement. The remaining two selected grants were for large timber/wetland tracts valued for their size, location and cultural significance. One of these properties was the Middleton Tract in Charleston County. This 1,274 acres was the culmination of the protection of more than 14,000 acres in the critically important Ashley River Historic District that the Conservation Bank has been working on for several years.

Conservation Bank Chairman Weston Adams said: "Considering the overall state of our budget in South Carolina, we are pleased that we are able to proceed with some of our outstanding commitments. We will continue to accept applications for this critical program and hope that the economy continues to improve."

Funding for the South Carolina Conservation Bank began in July 2004 and since that time the Conservation Bank has actively pursued its mission of conserving significant sites from willing landowners that will truly allow South Carolina to remain a special and significant place. The Conservation Bank program will simultaneously protect valuable natural resources and private property rights. Voluntary landowners who wish to participate may sell property outright or they may enter into conservation easements and retain traditional use of the land.

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.

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