LANCASTER COUNTY, SC (Sep. 29, 2020) — The Open Space Institute (OSI), the Lynches River Conservation Fund, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced an addition to the Forty-Acre Rock Heritage Preserve. The “Edwards” property, originally protected by OSI in 2019, includes a tributary off of Flat Creek. Flat Creek is designated Critical Habitat by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the Federally Endangered Carolina Heelsplitter mussel (Lasmigona decorata).
The approximately 58-acre “Edwards” property is near the 159-acre “Ardrey” property, which was also added to the Forty-Acre Rock Heritage Preserve by OSI and its partners in 2018. The Edwards property was acquired with a grant from the Lynches River Conservation Fund, administered by Central Carolina Community Foundation.
Thought extinct until rediscovered in 1987, Heelsplitters are the sustained focus of state and federal restoration efforts. The mussels remain in the wild in eight distinct North and South Carolina regions, including six where OSI has protected land over the past four years. Silt-free stream bottoms are critical to the mussels’ feeding and breeding cycles, making riparian land protection a crucial component in their survival and recovery.