Big Snooks, 228 acres, Jasper County
The 2.8 million-acre Savannah River Basin provides drinking water for 1.5 million people in South Carolina and Georgia. As you can imagine, protecting a watershed this size takes a village, which is why it should come as no surprise then that LLT’s most recent success story in the Savannah River Basin is the work of many partners.
Together, LLT, the City of Savannah, the Savannah River Clean Water Fund, the SC Conservation Bank, and the Longleaf Alliance are proud to have collaborated on the permanent protection of 288 acres along the Savannah River, known as “Big Snooks.” Big Snooks’ easement is the first ever conservation easement funded through the Savannah River Clean Water Fund, a collaborative whose goal is to protect water quality through land management and protection.
Big Snooks is remarkable on its own because of its wide range of habitats, including mature bottomland hardwood swamp, scenic sandhills, and longleaf pine stands, where an active population of Gopher tortoises–SC’s most endangered reptile–make their home. Bordered by the Savannah River, a SCDNR heritage preserve, and another LLT protected tract, Big Snooks is also valuable because it adds to the tapestry of protected lands across the watershed.
The City of Savannah, which is one of five water utilities participating in the Savannah River Clean Water Fund, received unanimous approval from City Council to provide funding to the project. Ask Laura Walker, environmental administrator for the City of Savannah, and she’ll tell you why: “Our community understands that paying forward and preserving forests now means protection of precious drinking water resources for the future.”
The SC Conservation Bank helped match the contribution from the Savannah River Clean Water Fund because this project checked off so many boxes: adjacent to other protected properties, full of diverse habitats, and financially supported by public and private partners. One of those private partners was the Longleaf Alliance. They provided funding through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant not only because it’s their mission to protect longleaf ecosystems, but also because their own research and field studies helped reveal the role bottomland forests play in water quality and quantity downstream.
We hope you’ll join us in raising a glass (of fresh, clean water) to the team that protected Big Snooks!
Aerial photo by Green Eyes Aero (top)