Characterization of the Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin, South Carolina
The protection of land and resources in the ACE Basin gained national attention in 1986 with the inception of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). Two years later, the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV) portion of the NAWMP made the ACE Basin a "flagship" project. This led to the formation of the ACE Basin Task Force and the protection of significant habitat areas in the Basin. From its inception, one feature that made the ACE Basin protection initiative unique was its emphasis on protecting the private property rights and developing ways to balance economic growth with conservation efforts. Due to the efforts of the Task Force, approximately 15% of the land in the ACE Basin study area is protected by state and federal ownership, or conservation easements. Approximately 40% of the protected lands are designated as public land, about 60% are private lands that are protected by conservation easements (108,680 ha, or 44,000 ac), and the remainder is protected by organization ownership, management agreements, or other means. Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge are large tracts of land managed and protected by state and federal ownership. The ACE Basin Task Force initiative is an outstanding example of how government, conservation groups, and private landowners can unite to protect important natural resources.