Land Conservation

Winyah Rivers is committed to protect the health of the lands and waters of the greater Winyah Bay watershed. We work with a diverse group of conservation partners to advance this mission. And, where a need is identified for WRF to take ownership, we evaluate the potential land acquisition using our Winyah Rivers Foundation, Inc. Land Acquisition Guidelines, Policies and Procedures.

In the north lowcountry area of our watershed in South Carolina, we are supported in our land conservation efforts by

 

 

 

Waccamaw River Conservation

  • Upper Waccamaw Task Force - we work collaboratively with partners focused on identifying and protecting land parcels that have high conservation values and lead to landscape-scale land preservation and stewardship.
    • the Singleton property, a 116 acre property bordering the Waccamaw River in the Cox Ferry area, with future plans to convey the property to a government agency for longterm conservation
  • Waccamaw River Blue Trail - created through a partnership led by Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER® and American Rivers to promote conservation and recreation along its 140+ miles in the coastal plain of the Carolinas, recognized as a keystone project in 2012 and in 2013 100 river miles in South Carolina were subsequently designated a National Water Trail by the National Park Service of the US Department of the Interior.
  • Partnership with The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina
    • Winyah Rivers owns ~7 acres adjacent to the Waccamaw River in the Nakina area of NC to permanently protect and provide passive access to the Waccamaw River Blue Trail.
    • The acquisition of Cove Swamp, a 441 acre tract of forested wetland that is now part of Lake Waccamaw State Park.

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  • Partnership with North Carolina Coastal Land Trust
    • The purchase of ~3,000 acres connects 20,000 acres of the Columbus County Game Lands with 17,000 acres of The Nature Conservancy’s Green Swamp Preserve, resulting in one of the largest conservation corridors in the state of North Carolina
    • The transfer of a 197 acre parcel to Lake Waccamaw State Park, 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
    • Ongoing support to prioritize the acquisition of high value conservation lands to protect the unique and wonderful Waccamaw River watershed

Black River Conservation

  • In 2015, we acquired Rocky Point, a 462 acre property located on the Black River near Choppee, with plans to develop it into coastal South Carolina's first public use community forest as well as returning to public access its boat launch as well as hiking and biking trails.  Stay up to date about Rocky Point here.

Lynches River Conservation

  • As a member of the Lynches River Conservation Board, we participate in the fund for land conservation/acquisition in the SC region of the Lynches River watershed. More information is available on the Lynches River Conservation website. The Lynches River Conservation Fund service area is highlighted below.

 

BACKGROUND

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. Since Winyah Rivers was formed, we have worked with land conservation partners throughout our greater Winyah Bay watershed.

In 2015, a major change occurred within our organization when we partnered with The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina and others to acquire property for conservation on the Black River in Georgetown County. This resulted in Winyah Rivers becoming a landowner for the first time. This led to an updated strategic plan, developed in 2016 with the support of the Waccamaw Community Foundation, that included strategies to direct our activities with respect to land conservation:

"Assessment of our land conservation strategies/ efforts. In light of 2015 purchase of Rocky Point Community Forest and upcoming acquisition of the Singleton Tract special attention needs to be given to this aspect of our programming."

And the following Action Steps:

  1. Evaluate WRF’s position on incorporating land acquisition into the strategy including budget, time frame, and resources.
  2. Continue to explore resources to support our existing land conservation efforts including Rocky Point, Singleton, and land conservation advisory partnerships such as the Upper Waccamaw Task Force and source water protection efforts.

 

As a result, and with the support of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, 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.

With the help of consultant Charles Roe and our Strategic Planning Committee, WRF's Board of Directors voted in favor of the following:

  • Adoption of Land Trust Standards and Practices as guiding principles for WRF to assure responsible, effective governance and operation of our organization (Land Trust Standards and Practices are the ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust. The Land Trust Alliance drafted the first Standards in 1989 at the urging of land trusts and to affirm certain best practices as the surest way to secure lasting conservation. To maintain the land trust community’s strength, credibility and effectiveness, the Standards were updated in 1993, 2001 and 2004, and now again in 2017, Ref: www.landtrustalliance.org);
  • 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 (note: WRF will not hold conservation easements deed restrictions but will instead rely on other conventional land trusts and conservancies to arrange, manage and enforce such conservation management agreements on private properties);
  • Adoption of policies and procedures for acquiring ownership title to other land properties in the future, and associated evaluation and selection criteria for determining whether to undertake such land acquisitions (see Winyah Rivers Foundation, Inc. Land Acquisition Guidelines, Policies and Procedures).

 

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 and are expected to be finalized and adopted shortly.