Scout Motors - wetland

Conservation Triumph: OSI Secures 5,000 Acres of Wetlands in South Carolina’s Richland County

Image Credit: Mac Stone

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (April 1, 2024) –The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced a significant conservation victory with the protection of 5,000 acres of wetlands along the scenic Congaree and Broad rivers in Richland County. Located southeast of Columbia, South Carolina’s vibrant state capital, this conservation effort highlights OSI's commitment to protecting vital ecosystems for both wildlife and public enjoyment.

This achievement was made possible through a strategic collaboration between OSI, Scout Motors, and the South Carolina Department of Commerce (SCDC). As Scout Motors prepared to establish a new electric vehicle plant in the county, they were required to identify and safeguard comparable wetlands to mitigate the environmental impact of their future facility. Recognizing the need for expert guidance, SCDC turned to OSI to help Scout identify wetlands with significant ecological value and public accessibility.

“Drawing upon our expertise in land conservation, we swiftly identified an expansive swath of land that held exceptional ecological significance and opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Nate Berry, OSI’s Chief Land Protection Officer.

Situated just upstream of the renowned 26,600-acre Congaree National Park, the newly protected tracts of land comprise forested wetlands that are home to abundant and diverse wildlife, including river otters and endangered species such as the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. The restoration efforts aim to reconnect the Congaree River with its tributaries, revitalizing critical habitats and enhancing food sources for local wildlife.

The project also includes the historic Millaree property, long utilized for farming, forestry, and hunting activities. Once incorporated into the state forest system managed by the South Carolina Forestry Commission, this land will be accessible to the public for recreation and hunting, ensuring its continued stewardship for the benefit of all.

Scott Phillips, South Carolina State Forester, expressed enthusiasm for the project's alignment with Governor McMaster's conservation agenda, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the state's natural treasures for future generations. "The timing and purpose of this project also dovetails nicely with Governor McMaster’s redoubled commitment to conserving as many of South Carolina's wild and natural places as possible," he says.

In addition to the Millaree property, OSI's conservation efforts extend to the protection of Shelton Islands, a cherished haven for wildlife amid the Broad River. These islands, characterized by their rich biodiversity and unique flora, serve as vital habitats for many species, underscoring the significance of their protection.

Funding for these conservation initiatives was provided by the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

About the Open Space Institute

Founded in 1974, the Open Space Institute (OSI) has been a partner in the protection of more than 2.5 million acres along the eastern seaboard from Quebec to Florida. OSI’s Southeast office, established in Charleston in 2014, has been a partner in the protection of more than 50,000 acres in South Carolina, the vast majority of which will be open to the public.

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