$5 million in grants awarded to SCDNR, S.C. Conservation Bank to preserve coastal wetlands

Source: Carter Stilley Wetlands Mitigation Bank
Source: Carter Stilley Wetlands Mitigation Bank
Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 9:29 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - More money will be going toward preserving coastal wetlands across South Carolina, according to officials.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that it and the South Carolina Conservation Bank were awarded $5 million in grants by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The maximum of $1 million was given to each of South Carolina’s projects, including two in the Grand Strand:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

“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.”

Officials said the 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.

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