COLUMBIA, S.C. (May 10, 2018) —The South Carolina General Assembly today gave final legislative approval to H.4727, a bill that reauthorizes the South Carolina Conservation Bank in perpetuity. With both legislative chambers having overwhelmingly approved a compromise version of the bill, thereby reaffirming their commitment to continue our State’s policy of land conservation, the Conservation Bank reauthorization bill is now on its way to Governor McMaster for his signature.
Today is a good day for South Carolina’s irreplaceable and iconic landscapes, and the diversity of priority birds they support. With so many pressures on our birds, saving land is the most important thing we can do,” said Audubon South Carolina Executive Director Sharon Richardson. “The legislature has shown tremendous leadership during the process to reauthorize the Conservation Bank—and their actions will help protect our state’s precious natural and historic resources for generations to come."
From forests, farms and historic sites to river corridors, urban parks and wetlands, the SC Conservation Bank has protected almost 300,000 acres of critical conservation and culturally significant lands across the state since the program’s inception in 2002.
Audubon South Carolina has been a strong advocate for the Conservation Bank and a recipient of its funds. A modest investment from the Conservation Bank helped Audubon South Carolina grow its Beidler Forest Center and Sanctuary—the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp forest—to the 18,000 acres it is today. Home to some of the best breeding habitat for Prothonotary Warblers, this bird and wildlife sanctuary encompasses ecologically important floodplain and wetlands areas, which help filter water and prevent flooding during storms. The center is open to the public, hosting thousands of visitors per year—many of them schoolchildren —who come to enjoy the wildlife and learn about this one of a kind ecological wonder. These lands are important for the birds they support today, but even more important for the future, as habitat ranges shift in response to changing climate conditions.
An investment from the Conservation Bank also helped Audubon’s attract precious new federal dollars to the state, securing the successful protection of more than 9,000 acres of river corridors and forests in the Edisto River watershed. Protecting landscapes like Audubon’s Beidler Forest and Silver Bluff Sanctuary, both part of a network of 4 million acres of forested Climate Strongholds in South Carolina, is necessary to safeguarding public health and wellbeing, attracting tourism and investment to our state and preserving our South Carolinian heritage and natural resource based economic drivers. The Conservation Bank does this work admirably and efficiently, as demonstrated by Audubon South Carolina’s own experience.
“Audubon South Carolina applauds the legislature for approving the reauthorization of the Conservation Bank,” said Richardson. “I am particularly grateful to the leadership of House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, Representative Mike Pitts, Senators Nikki Setzler and Chip Campsen, and many other legislators who helped shepherd this measure through the statehouse. We look forward to working with the legislature and our conservation partners in the future to ensure that the Bank remains adequately funded.”
About Audubon South Carolina
Audubon South Carolina protects birds and the places they need, right here in South Carolina, using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. We’re the state office of the National Audubon Society, which has more than one million members and a century-long track record of success. In South Carolina, we represent nearly 20,00 Audubon members, nine Audubon chapters and bird club partners across the state, two Audubon centers and 22,000 acres of land that we own and manage. Learn more about what we do and how to help at sc.audubon.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @AudubonSc and Instagram at @audubon_sc.
Angelina Ricci Eisenhauer
Director, Policy and Communications