The Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program had another successful year in 2015.
The Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program had another successful year in 2015. The Program’s goal has always been to protect the natural resources of Beaufort County by keeping the environment healthy and protecting all that’s special and unique about this incredible place. Growth management, water quality, forests and farmland, and protection of environmental, cultural and historic resources still are high priorities. More specifically for 2015 we continued to work toward protecting high priority targets as identified by the 2014 Greenprint Plan, fostered our partnership with the Stormwater Utility to leverage our mutual efforts, continued building significant conservation areas by purchasing land adjacent to land already protected, and began to take a closer look at managing the protected fee land inventory.
To date, Rural and Critical has now protected 23,387 acres in Beaufort County with 11,079 acres through fee simple purchases and 12,308 acres protected via conservation easement.
Duncan Farms: Conserved rural land and prime agricultural soils while protecting against uncharacteristic residential development in a farming community and the Hwy 21 corridor. Protected natural habitat which supports diverse wildlife and bird species and is adjacent to Nemours Plantation which helped to expand the protected land in the ACE Basin.
Shell Point: Protected the waters of Battery Creek, a creek already experiencing degradation and also protected two sensitive isolated wetlands providing habitat to a variety of wildlife species including a pair of Mississippi kites. In addition to water quality benefits, preventing development avoided adding to existing traffic problems.
Chechessee/Okatie Marsh Land Exchange: 20 acres of the Okatie Marsh property with frontage along Hwy 170 was exchanged for the 43 acre Chechessee property that is adjacent to land already in the RCLPP inventory, Manigault’s Neck. 20 acres will be the future site of the Animal Services Facility and the remainder of the property will be developed with a complimentary theme as a passive “dog” park.
Projects that have been approved and are expected to close in 2016 include:
Moody: Joint purchase between the RCL Program and the MCAS Beaufort. Helps the MCAS Beaufort protect from encroachment, but also protects against uncharacteristic residential development, promotes agriculture and protects natural habitat.
Kent Estates (New Leaf and Lowcountry Evergreen tracts): The RCL Program partnered with Beaufort County Stormwater Utility for this project. Located between Sun City and other developments that contribute a significant amount to the impairment of the Okatie River, protection of the properties combined with several stormwater ponds in strategic locations will help to alleviate the effects of development and the expansion of Hwy 170, and prevent further impairment to the Okatie River.
Cool Heart Spring: Adjacent to the Chechessee Tract and Manigault’s Neck (aka the Burch tracts). Protects water quality on a high profile, economically important waterway and outstanding resource water (ORW), increases protection in the Chechessee River watershed adding to the mosaic of protected parcels, continues to protect the rural nature of the area, protects a headwater tract potentially important for rising sea levels, and protects a contiguous block of quality upland and lowland habitat for wildlife.
Boundary Street/ Battery Creek Park: Partnership between BCOLT, Beaufort County, and the City of Beaufort for the purchase of seven acres on Battery Creek to create “Battery Creek Park”.
Additional Program Highlights
The RCL Board welcomed four new members Susie Fripp-Gordon (District 1), Mark Baker (District 8), Michael Mathews (District 9), Gail O’Kane (District 11) in 2015.
Update of www.ruralandcritical.org. (If you're reading this you've already found it!) This new website includes this conservation blog and online map that highlights the program’s Greenprint outcomes and strategic focus areas.