The Ebb & Flow BLOG

654 acres protected forever at Cooler Dairy Farm

Colleton County, SC – Lowcountry Land Trust is pleased to announce the successful protection of 654 acres at Cooler Dairy Farm, located in the headwaters of the Ashepoo River, just outside of Walterboro in Colleton County. This significant conservation effort represents a major milestone in safeguarding the region’s natural beauty and ecological importance. The property owner, Dr. Paul Cooler, has generously committed to a conservation easement, ensuring the permanent protection of this vital land.

“We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Paul Cooler for his commitment to land conservation and his decision to protect Cooler Dairy Farm,” stated Ashley Demosthenes, President and CEO of Lowcountry Land Trust. “This conservation easement ensures that the land will remain intact, benefiting the natural environment, water quality, and wildlife habitat. Cooler Dairy Farm is an integral part of the ACE Basin’s protected landscape, contributing to the larger conservation efforts in the region.”

Cooler Dairy Farm is situated near the heart of the ACE Basin within the Salkehatchie Watershed. It encompasses a significant portion of Fuller Swamp Creek and its associated freshwater wetland system, which flows south into the Ashepoo River and St. Helena Sound—one of the most pristine estuaries along the eastern seaboard. 

The permanent protection of Cooler Dairy Farm was made possible by a grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank, which seeks to conserve significant natural resource areas and wildlife habitats, preserve farmlands, and encourage partnerships among landowners and conservation organizations. The Conservation Bank’s funding, along with a significant donation of value by Dr. Cooler, enabled the bargain purchase of the conservation easement.

This conservation effort aligns with the mission and goals of the ACE Basin Project, a collaborative initiative involving private landowners, conservation groups, and federal and state agencies dedicated to preserving and enhancing the region’s natural resources. The ACE Basin covers approximately 1.7 million acres and boasts diverse habitats and a wealth of wildlife. It has earned recognition as one of the largest areas of intact wetland and upland ecosystems remaining on the Atlantic Coast, supporting over 267 terrestrial and aquatic birds, 83 reptiles and amphibians, 20 mammals, and 130 fish and shellfish species. 

The protection of Cooler Dairy Farm contributes to the ACE Basin’s extensive network of protected wildlife habitat and outstanding water quality. The 654-acre conservation easement also protects scenic and agricultural resources. The conservation easement buffers 4,500 feet of forested road frontage along Coolers Dairy Road, ensuring the ACE Basin’s rural scenic character is maintained. Furthermore, the property contains soils of statewide importance and prime farmland, as well as land determined by The Nature Conservancy to be climate-resilient.

Cooler Dairy Farm shares boundaries with an existing 200-acre property protected by a conservation easement held by Lowcountry Land Trust. It is also located just over three miles upstream from a nationally significant corridor of permanently protected lands. The combined protected lands form a nearly contiguous protective corridor of private lands protected by various organizations spanning over 100,000 acres, as well as publicly accessible lands such as the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge and several South Carolina wildlife management areas. 

By protecting the property, Lowcountry Land Trust and Dr. Cooler are safeguarding water quality by preserving bottomland hardwood forest wetlands and preventing non-point source pollution from entering local waterways. Furthermore, the conservation easement contributes to preserving habitat suitable for rare, threatened, and endangered species, as well as other species of greatest conservation need identified in the South Carolina State Wildlife Action Plan.

The conservation efforts at Cooler Dairy Farm are a testament to the commitment of private landowners, conservation organizations, and government agencies to protecting and enhancing the region’s natural beauty and ecological integrity. Lowcountry Land Trust is dedicated to partnering with landowners and local stakeholders to permanently preserve and nurture land throughout coastal South Carolina. With this latest conservation success, Lowcountry Land Trust further advances its mission of protecting land and water forever.