The mission of Winyah Rivers is to protect, preserve, monitor and revitalize the health of the lands and waters of the greater Winyah Bay watershed and we take that mission very seriously. We work with land conservation partners throughout our greater Winyah Bay watershed.
In South Carolina, we are supported in our land conservation efforts by the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. With its support, we work collaboratively with partners focused on identifying and protecting land parcels that have high conservation values.
- The Donnelley Foundation has supported us in our collaborative efforts to establish the Waccamaw River Blue Trail in South Carolina, recognized by the US Department of the Interior and the National Park Service as a National Water Trail.
- In late 2015, Winyah Rivers took ownership of Rocky Point, a 462 acre property located on the Black River near Choppee, SC. The property is in the process of being developed into coastal South Carolina's first public use community forest and many of its historically popular features will return, including hiking and biking trails and a boat launch. Stay up to date about Rocky Point here.
- Through our Upper Waccamaw Task Force, we collaborate with governmental and non-governmental agencies to focus on high priority conservation properties in the Waccamaw watershed in Horry County.
- We offer technical advice to partners working on source water protection planning, protecting our drinking water sources to sustain safe drinking water supplies.
In North Carolina, we partner with the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina, among others, with a focus on the North Carolina portion of the Waccamaw watershed. Successes include:
- The acquisition of Cove Swamp, a 441 acre tract of forested wetland that is now part of Lake Waccamaw State Park.
- Transfer of a 197 acre parcel, a portion of a 670 acre parcel that the Coastal Land Trust purchased in 2014 and featuring almost 1.5 miles of wooded frontage along the Waccamaw River, to Lake Waccamaw State Park.
- Ongoing support to our conservation partners to prioritize and acquire high value conservation lands to protect the unique and wonderful Waccamaw River watershed.
Winyah Rivers' strategic plan, updated in late 2016 with the support of the Waccamaw Community Foundation, helps to direct our activities with respect to land conservation. In 2017, with Donnelley Foundation support, we hired a land conservation consultant to evaluate and make recommendations regarding our land conservation strategy. We recognized that, as a land owner and with a growing need for protecting lands important for conservation and/or for river access, we needed to evaluate the role Winyah Rivers can assume in ongoing land conservation and ownership.
In 2017, with the help of consultant Charles Roe and our Strategic Planning Committee, WRF's Board of Directors voted to consider additional land acquisitions where that land is determined to be critically important for protection of clean water, natural resources conservation, and water based public recreation and education. We will continue to collaborate with our conservation partners and, where a need is identified, we will evaluate future land acquisitions using a specific set of evaluation and selection procedures and criteria to fulfill a land conservation niche not provided by other land trusts working in our region. Those procedures and criteria are currently under development.