March 10, 2021
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the S.C. Conservation Bank were recently awarded five grants totaling $5 million to protect coastal wetlands in Williamsburg, Jasper, Charleston, Georgetown and Horry counties.
"Coastal wetland habitat conservation is critical to ensure that important habitat, wildlife and coastal communities continue to thrive for future generations," said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants, awarded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provide funding of up to $1 million to coastal states to protect, restore and enhance coastal wetland ecosystems and associated wetlands. The maximum of $1 million was given to each of South Carolina's five projects.
"These grants will have wide-reaching benefits for local South Carolina economies, people and wildlife," said J. Raleigh West III, executive director of the S.C. Conservation Bank. "They will strengthen partnerships with numerous public, non-profit and private stakeholders while directly conserving and restoring vital coastal habitat and inland wetlands."
The wetlands conservation grants in South Carolina will help to protect the following properties:
- 841 acres of diverse coastal habitats along the Black River in Williamsburg County that will be acquired by Open Space Institute with help from the Conservation Bank. This tract harbors species like the state-endangered swallow-tailed kite and federally threatened wood stork.
- 974 acres in the Lower Savannah River watershed of Jasper County, which SCDNR is planning to acquire with support from conservation partners Lowcountry Land Trust and the Savannah River Clean Water Fund. This forested tract protects 3.5 miles of river frontage, its extensive floodplain forests provide critical habitat and flood control, and it supports clean drinking water supplies for citizens in the region.
- 194 acres on the Ashley Scenic River in Charleston County, which will be acquired by the Open Space Institute and transferred to the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust. The property has nearly a mile of Ashley River frontage on the Ashley River Road National Scenic Byway.
- 1,964 acres along the Santee River in Georgetown County, which SCDNR is planning to acquire with support from The Conservation Fund and the Conservation Bank. The forested wetlands are used by no less than 117 priority species, 12 of which are federally listed.
- 980 acres in the Waccamaw River Basin of Horry County, which SCDNR is planning to acquire with support from Ducks Unlimited and the Conservation Bank. This tract includes more than 3 miles of frontage along the Waccamaw River and features significant natural, cultural and archaeological resources. It will also establish new public access points and increase permanently protected riverfront on the Waccamaw River Blue Trail.
Robert H. Boyles Jr., SCDNR director, said: "These grants are a great example of how much we can get done by working together with our conservation partners, such as the Conservation Bank, Open Space Institute, Lowcountry Land Trust, Savannah River Clean Water Fund, The Conservation Fund and Ducks Unlimited. With assistance from these partners, it will help us to recover coastal-dependent species, enhance flood protection and water quality, provide economic benefit to coastal communities, and increase outdoor recreational opportunities."
The coastal wetlands grants are funded by a "user-pay" system of collections from the sale of recreational fishing equipment, boats, electric motors, and motorboat and small engine fuels under the authority of the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950.
Boyles said that while SCDNR knows the public is ready to explore these great new conservation properties, he asked the public to keep in mind that the natural resources agency must work through the processes of the S.C. Department of Administration to acquire properties, which will soon be underway. The public should stay tuned for future announcements when the property acquisitions are complete and ready for public enjoyment, Boyles said.
Media Contact: David Lucas, Public Information Coordinator<