PICKENS COUNTY, SC (Aug. 10, 2018)—The scenic view from one of the most popular and iconic parks in South Carolina is now preserved forever, thanks to the Open Space Institute (OSI). The land, which also protects water quality in the nearby Saluda River, builds on OSI’s impact in the state’s Blue Ridge region.
Previously the subject of interest from an international timber company and a residential developer, the forested, 776-acre “Grassy Knob” property was purchased by OSI for $1.4 million. Adjacent to popular Table Rock State Park, the property contains plant and animal habitat as well as a scenic mountain that rises over 2,600 feet.
The acquisition builds on OSI’s impact on the region: within a few miles of the Grassy Knob property, OSI has conserved almost 2,000 acres.
"Innovative collaborative efforts like the protection of Grassy Knob represent the future of conservation in South Carolina," said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI. "The Open Space Institute commends our partners, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the South Carolina Conservation Bank, Naturaland Trust and Upstate Forever, in the protection of this critical tract."
The protection of the Grassy Knob property was made possible through mitigation funds associated with the extension of State 153 by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT). The transportation project will provide an alternate route for traffic between Greenville and Pickens, SC.
DOT purchased from OSI part of the property which drains into the Saluda River, and signed a conservation easement with area land conservation nonprofit Upstate Forever that will protect the site from development. Naturaland Trust has purchased the other half of the mountain from OSI.
Both the portion of the Grassy Knob property that is owned by the South Carolina DOT and the portion owned by Naturaland Trust are now open to the public for hiking. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will add the land into the wildlife management program.
Table Rock State Park is an approximately 3,000-acre park at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiking trails within the park serve as an access point for the 80-mile Foothills Trail, which runs through the South Carolina backcountry and connects several state parks.
The 200-mile Saluda River flows through northern and western South Carolina, past Greenville, SC. The river is home to threatened and endangered species including several species of freshwater mussel.
Since 2013, OSI has protected more than 9,000 acres in South Carolina, including the addition of nearly 6,000 acres to the Francis Marion National Forest; the transfer of Pappy’s Island to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge; and land along the Black River.