CHESTER COUNTY, SC (Aug. 30, 2021)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced its latest South Carolina conservation win with the transfer of 385 acres along the Catawba River to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).
OSI acquired the Landsford Tract in 2020. The largely forested property totals approximately 494 acres. The property will be conveyed to SCDNR in two phases. The first phase, which was just completed thanks to a generous grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank, transfers 385 acres to SCDNR.
For phase two, OSI is working with the Palustrine Group to restore stream resources on the remaining 109 acres to satisfy wetland mitigation requirements associated with the new Carolina Panthers Rockhill Development. OSI expects to donate the 109 acres, subject to a conservation easement held by the Katawba Valley Land Trust, to SCDNR once restoration is complete. The public will be granted access to the entire property after all planning and management plans are complete.
In addition to creating public access, the project prevents incompatible development on the uplands and, through stream restoration, enhances the quality of the water flowing into the Catawba River just upstream of the world’s largest remaining colony of Rocky Shoals Spider Lillies, which bloom annually during May and June.
“The SCDNR is always excited about acquisitions that increase habitat connectivity and protect riparian corridors. The addition of these tracts will provide an opportunity for people to connect with the outdoors near an area with high development pressure and sustain the habitat for wildlife to remain for all to enjoy,” said Robert Boyles, Director of the SCDNR.
“The Catawba River, particularly this section with large Rocky Shoals Spider Lily population, is one of the most important conservation focus areas in the state. It’s not just ecologically significant, but it also serves as one of the most frequently visited and photographed places in South Carolina. The window to protect large tracts like this on the Catawba is finite so I’m grateful we had the opportunity to dedicate this one as a public wildlife preserve,” said Raleigh West, Executive Director of the South Carolina Conservation Bank.
“OSI is proud to have protected this important property for the people of South Carolina” said Nate Berry, OSI Senior Vice President. “Strategic land protection plays a fundamental role in helping to protect habitat and ensures a better quality of life for all South Carolinians.”
News Article About OSI's Landsford Tract in the 'Charlotte Observer'
"The Carolina Panthers sealed a deal in 2020 to build their 240-acre headquarters in Rock Hill, S.C. As a result of that deal, funds now are available for a conservation project to preserve wetlands along the Catawba River."
Just a short drive from Charlotte, NC, the 1,049-acre Landsford Canal Forest Legacy Area is an unnamed Wildlife Management Area (WMA) that adjoins the 448-acre Landsford Canal State Park. The Park, offering picnicking, nature watching, canoeing, kayaking, and the extraordinary Rocky Shoals Spider Lillies, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its intricate and well-preserved 18th and 19th century canal.
Founded in 1974, OSI has grown to become a partner 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.