BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (July 12, 2022)—The Open Space Institute, Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust, and Lowcountry Land Trust announce the creation of the Lewisfield Preserve: a 600-acre sanctuary of mature bottomland hardwood forests and historic inland rice fields on the Cooper River. The conservation partners are developing a public access plan that encompasses outdoor recreation, nature study, and historic research.
Over the past three decades, conservation groups and landowners have permanently secured more than 50,000 acres in Berkeley County, including the sites of some of America’s earliest European and African American settlements. The newly established Lewisfield Preserve represents a vital addition to the protected landscape along the Cooper River – near the northern edge of the Charleston metropolitan area.
The acquisition and creation of the Lewisfield Preserve comes at a critical moment. Over the past decade, Berkeley County has consistently ranked as the second fastest-growing county in South Carolina, placing it among the most rapidly growing places in the U.S. As thousands of acres of land are converted to subdivisions, strip malls, and industrial sites every year, the future of nature and history in Berkeley County truly hangs in the balance – a balance that the Open Space Institute, Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust, and Lowcountry Land Trust have substantially tilted toward preservation.
Conservationists and their partners have permanently safeguarded dozens of properties along the Cooper River in the last 30 years, forming a nearly unbroken 30-mile protected corridor on both sides of the river that extends up the historic East Branch. A few of the protected sites include: Medway Plantation, a 7,000-acre property featuring the oldest masonry house in the state; Mulberry Plantation, with one of the finest examples of Jacobean architecture in the New World; and 3,000-acre Mepkin Abbey, formerly the home of Henry and Clair Booth Luce and now a beloved Cistercian monastery.
Combined with the 250,000-acre Francis Marion National Forest, these publicly and privately owned conservation lands constitute one of the largest sanctuaries of history and nature on the Eastern Seaboard. The Lewisfield Preserve represents the latest – and one of the final – pieces of the conservation puzzle along this section of the Cooper River.