LAURENS COUNTY, SC (Oct. 13, 2021)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) today announced the expansion of South Carolina’s celebrated Sumter National Forest. The project adds important publicly accessible land to the state’s Piedmont region while safeguarding prime habitat for wild turkey and other native wildlife.
The 481-acre “Duncan Creek” property is surrounded by more than 170,000 acres of the Enoree District of the Sumter National Forest near Clinton, South Carolina. The property has nearly a mile of frontage on Duncan Creek, the largest tributary of the Enoree River, and its protection prevents incompatible development from occurring near the popular Philson Crossroads Rifle Range.
OSI first protected the property earlier this year, with the support of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and in partnership with the USDA Forest Service (USFS).
“This addition to Sumter National Forest represents a tremendous achievement for one of South Carolina’s traditional game species, and an exciting new expanse of public land within the Piedmont,” said Nate Berry, OSI Senior Vice President for Land Acquisitions and Dispositions. “This project truly demonstrates the value of public-private partnerships, in getting conservation done for good and forever. I thank the NWTF and the USFS for their efforts in securing this land protection victory.”
“The quick action of the Open Space Institute to secure this tract and the willingness of the SC Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation to assist in the transactional costs of this acquisition exemplify the true spirit of collaboration. We applaud the efforts of both partners to benefit public enjoyment of these protected lands for generations to come,” said acting Francis Marion & Sumter National Forests’ Supervisor Rhea Whalen.
“NWTF is excited to engage in conservation projects that protect and enhance the wild turkey and other important wildlife on the Enoree District of Sumter NF. We want to thank OSI and USFS for spearheading this achievement. Projects like this will continue to protect and conserve important wildlife habitat and provide public recreation for future generations,” said National Wild Turkey Federation South Carolina State Chapter President Dennis Waters.
Established in 1936, the Enoree District is named for the Enoree River, an 87-mile-long tributary of the Broad River, which supplies drinking water for the City of Columbia. The Enoree District has active recreation, soil and water quality improvement, wildlife and fisheries, timber management, and prescribed burning programs.
Wild turkeys were driven to the brink of extinction in the 1930s due to overhunting and habitat loss, with only 30,000 birds estimated to have remained in the wild. Today, there are approximately 6.2 million birds throughout the species’ North American range.
Founded in 1974, OSI has partnered in the protection of more than 2.3 million acres along the eastern seaboard from Quebec to Florida — including over 100,000 acres in the Southeastern U.S.