PLANTERSVILLE, SC (Dec. 21, 2016)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the conservation of a key property that will safeguard drinking water while protecting history and wildlife habitat along coastal South Carolina’s celebrated Pee Dee River.
Until recently slated for a subdivision, the 39-acre “McTeer-Samworth Farms” property is now planned for incorporation into the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Samworth Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Purchased by OSI for $212,000, the property contains unimproved forests and wetlands.
Avoided development of McTeer-Samworth Farms benefits over 8,000 neighboring acres, including Samworth WMA and other privately eased lands. These lands are actively managed to restore and maintain longleaf pine forest, habitat for the federally-endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and a host of other rare species.
“The protection of McTeer-Samworth Farms will benefit generations to come, as well as the species that depend upon this ecologically critical portion of coastal South Carolina,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO. “We thank our partners the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for its impressive legacy in protecting this invaluable coastal landscape.”
“The McTeer tract is a key piece of a larger land protection project that DNR has been working on with our partners,” said Alvin Taylor, Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “It is vital to maintaining the integrity of the Samworth Wildlife Management Area and the Scenic Plantersville Highway in Georgetown County.”
Located close to a surface water intake for Horry and Georgetown Counties along the Waccamaw River (part of the larger Pee Dee River watershed), the property’s fringe pine-hardwood forests and forested wetlands will help protect drinking water for local residents by filtering and recharging water resources. Future management could also support mature-forested wetlands and longleaf pine forest, ideal habitat for rare and threatened species.
Acquisition of McTeer-Samworth Farms also fulfills scenic and cultural objectives of the Plantersville Scenic Byway, a 12-mile route adjacent to the Pee Dee River with many sites related to the region’s historic rice culture. The National Register of Historic Places recognizes the Pee Dee River Rice Planter’s Historic District for its significance during the Colonial rice plantation era.
Itself formerly the site of historic Richland Plantation (circa 1779), Samworth WMA is now a significant recreational area and access point along the Pee Dee scenic river corridor, offering hiking, bird watching, hunting, a picnic area, and popular boat landing. A recent Pee Dee Scenic River public input survey revealed that Samworth WMA’s landing ranked fourth out of 19 access points as “most frequently used to access the scenic river.”
Looking ahead, the McTeer-Samworth Farms property is planned to be incorporated into the Samworth WMA in the coming years.