Holly Bluff II, 449 acres, Colleton County
Landscape conservation is a long game. Take the ACE Basin–1.7M acres of upland and wetland habitat bound by the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers and one of the largest intact ecosystems on the east coast. It’s a model in private land conservation, a success thanks to hundreds of landowners who placed their properties under conservation easement one at a time, to the tune of over 300,000 protected acres today.
At Lowcountry Land Trust, we are proud of our efforts to protect nearly 55,000 acres in the ACE Basin, and we can’t wait to protect the next 50,000. Last summer, we inched closer to our next milestone with the protection of Holly Bluff II, a 449-acre property near Yemassee that is owned by Todd and Melissa Crosby. The Crosbys are no stranger to conservation easements, as their 195-acre property, Holly Bluff I, is also under easement. Holly Bluff II fronts the Combahee River and Black Creek, a tributary of the Combahee, and is part of a growing conservation movement along the Combahee River. To date, this conservation neighborhood has over 8,500 acres of permanently protected lands directly adjacent to the Combahee River just north of I-95. A working timberland tract, Holly Bluff II is home to mature bottomland hardwood wetlands, pine and hardwood forestland, ponds, agricultural fields, and food plots.
What makes the protection of Holly Bluff II especially celebration-worthy is that its conservation value extends far beyond the property’s legal boundaries. Yes, the term “conservation value” sounds a little like techno-speak, but it’s the term we use to describe the natural, historical, or cultural features that make a property unique and worthy of conservation. At Holly Bluff II, not only are the property’s forests, agricultural fields, and wildlife habitat important in and of themselves, but the forested wetlands are key to maintaining water quality in the Combahee River and throughout the ACE Basin. That means that protecting Holly Bluff II has long-term implications for the health of the much bigger ecosystem that surrounds it. In fact, that’s why the SC Conservation Bank stepped in to help LLT purchase the easement. As the Bank’s executive director, Raleigh West explains, “What has become abundantly clear is the need to protect water quality in the state’s rivers and creeks.”
We couldn’t agree more and are glad to be back out in the field in the ACE Basin this summer.
Aerial photos by Green Eyes Aero