Project protects 78 acres along Little Pee Dee River
DILLON, S.C. – The Open Space Institute, the South Carolina Ports Authority and Pee Dee Land Trust have announced a major land conservation achievement aimed at improving the water quality of the Little Pee Dee River.
The project will permanently protect 78 acres near the source of the 116-mile river.
The Little Pee Dee River property, located outside the town of Dillon, consists of forested wetlands important for wildlife, groundwater recharge and water quality. As a result of this project, the property will be protected permanently from future cutting or disturbance.
Research has shown that intact watershed forests act as a natural filter to clean drinking water downstream and can moderate the flow of water, reducing the risk of flooding downstream.
The protection of the Little Pee Dee River property was made possible through wetlands mitigation funding associated with the South Carolina Ports Authority’s new Inland Port Dillon. Under the structure of the acquisition, the property was secured by the Open Space Institute and has been transferred to Dillon County, with Pee Dee Land Trust holding a conservation easement.
“The unspoiled forests near the source of the Little Pee Dee River act as natural water filter,” said Kim Elliman, president and chief executive officer of the Open Space Institute. “By protecting this land, we are improving the river’s overall water quality for generations to come. We thank the South Carolina Ports Authority and Pee Dee Land Trust, and look forward to continuing to work with our talented conservation partners in South Carolina.”
The port is pleased to be part of the Dillon community and contribute to important conservation efforts, in addition to economic development activities, of the Pee Dee region, said SCPA president and chief executive officer Jim Newsome.
“The protection of this property is reflective of the port’s ongoing commitment to responsible environmental operations,” Newsome said.
Lyles Cooper Lyles, the executive director of the Pee Dee Land Trust, said her organization is proud to partner with the Open Space Institute, the South Carolina Ports Authority and Dillon County to fulfill the ports authority’s mitigation requirements for the development of the inland port in Dillon.
“The conservation easement on this significant resource is a good example of PDLT’s mission to conserve land in the Pee Dee Watershed while serving as a partner to complement economic development and contribute to the improvement of quality of life needs for our area,” she said.
The newly protected property is located in a conservation priority area for state and federal agencies, conservation groups and private landowners. It also is near or adjacent to other privately and publicly protected properties, including the state’s Little Pee Dee State Park and the Little Pee Dee Heritage Preserve.
The Little Pee Dee River is a 116-mile black water tributary of the Great Pee Dee River. The Little Pee Dee flows past cypress-tupelo swamps, ancient sloughs, and sandy stream bottoms and is a popular recreation destination for fishing and boating.
Since 2013, the Open Space Institute has protected more than 9,000 acres in South Carolina, including the addition of nearly 6,000 acres to the Francis Marion National Forest, the transfer of Pappy’s Island to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and land along the Black River.
With this as its 69th conservation project to date, the Pee Dee Land Trust now has protected more than 27,693 acres in the Pee Dee Region. While remaining in private ownership, the lands protected through conservation easements held by PDLT ensure that special places will be available for farming, forestry and recreation for future generations.
The Pee Dee Land Trust focuses on the Pee Dee watershed, which covers nine-plus counties of the Pee Dee region in South Carolina: Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg. Its mission is to protect and promote an appreciation of the significant natural, agricultural and historical resources of the Pee Dee region through voluntary land conservation and educational programs.