Keeping waterways clean and protecting and restoring habitat along rivers and streams is essential for the survival of our state’s birds. The South Carolina Conservation Bank – our most important state tool for land conservation – has been highly successful in meeting both these objectives.
Since 2002, the Conservation Bank has protected and/or restored nearly 300,000 acres of forests, wetlands, historic sites, farms, and urban parks in South Carolina for an average price of 17 cents on the dollar compared to fair market value. That includes properties with more than 350 miles of creek and river frontage.
The Conservation Bank is a tremendous program – yet it’s funding automatically ends in 2018. The only way to keep it alive is to urge our legislators to reauthorize it.
Here are a few of the great places for birds (and bird lovers) that the Conservation Bank has protected and/or restored:
- Four Holes Swamp: In 2005, Audubon South Carolina received $1.5 million from the Conservation Bank to protect 2,400 acres of prime bird habitat. It’s now part of the Francis Beidler Forest.
- Conestee Park: In 2004, the City of Greenville relied on $645,000 from the Conservation Bank to create a 400 acre park on the Reedy River. More than 200 species of birds now enjoy a new haven – designated by Audubon as an Important Bird Area of Global Significance.
- Morris Island Lighthouse: In 2006, $1.5 million in Conservation Bank funds helped save the Morris Island Lighthouse. In a related effort, the whole island – a paradise for both birders and Civil War buffs – was later saved from development.
- Coastal Restorations: At Bear Island, Botany Bay, Santee Coastal Reserve, Bonneau Ferry, and other coastal spots, Conservation Bank funds have helped restore habitat for waterfowl and other wetlands-dependent bird species – while enhancing opportunities for public recreation.
Protecting 350 miles of creek and river frontage is no small accomplishment. Wild land along the water’s edge filters out pollutants before they reach our rivers and creeks, keeping them free of industrial pollution, agricultural runoff, and other contaminants.
The Conservation Bank, in other words, is an extraordinarily cost-effective way to protect South Carolina's waterways for drinking, fishing, and swimming – and so that our state’s birds can continue to thrive.
Please take action today to keep this outstanding program in place!