Lowcountry Land Trust part of multi-organization effort to protect vital land in Ashley River Historic District
CHARLESTON, SC — Lowcountry Land Trust (LLT), The Open Space Institute (OSI), South Carolina Conservation Bank (SCCB), the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, and Dorchester Preservation Trust today announced the protection of 204 acres in South Carolina’s Ashley River Historic District. The property, known as The Oaks, has been conveyed to the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust with a conservation easement held by LLT.
The Oaks is located in the Cooper, Ashley, Wando, Stono (CAWS) Focus Area and contains frontage on both the Ashley River and Ashley River Road, which are designated State Scenic River and State Scenic Byway, respectively. The property consists primarily of mature maritime forests, mixed hardwood pine upland forests, brackish marsh, and forested and non-forested freshwater wetlands, all of which support a variety of floral and faunal species. The protection of this property will provide invaluable ecosystem services such as reducing storm surge impacts to downstream uplands resulting in less erosion and subsidence and ultimately supporting essential habitat for fisheries as well as threatened, endangered, and protected species. Preserving this land will also provide defense to rising sea levels, sequester atmospheric carbon, filter runoff, improve water quality, and preserve the area’s unique biodiversity.
The Ashley River Historic District comprises 25,000 acres recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, representing significant cultural and ecological heritage to the Lowcountry dating back to pre-colonial times. The property has significant cultural and historical resources that include a historic phosphate mine, the archaeological ruins of the Catetell family plantation home seat, a historic African American cemetery, and artifacts discovered from the 17th century.
Conserving The Oaks will add to historical and communal preservation efforts in the Ashley River Historic District. The property will continue to provide scenic views to those driving the Ashley River Road or floating down the Ashley River. The preservation of such views provides an authentic Lowcountry experience valued by both residents and tourists alike.
“Protecting a state scenic river, a national scenic byway, and an ecologically and culturally rich piece of a large intact landscape—The Oaks accomplishes so many of the priorities we and the project partners strive to achieve,” said David Ray, Chief Conservation Officer of the Lowcountry Land Trust. “The project’s completion demonstrates the vigor conservationists and landowners continue to bring to saving this incredibly important place.”
“The tract is embedded in a larger landscape of publicly and privately protected land and exhibits the creativity, innovation, and collaboration that have become hallmarks of the conservation movement in South Carolina over the past forty years,” said Nate Berry, OSI Senior Vice President for Land Acquisitions and Dispositions. “OSI thanks our partners for their tireless work to see this land protected for future South Carolinians.”
“The protection of The Oaks is the result of a collaborative effort from numerous conservation partners with funding leveraged from several sources including the Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. As the Charleston metro area continues to expand, preserving important ecological and cultural resources, such as those of The Oaks, will be key to ultimately safeguarding the integrity of the greater Ashley River system for generations to come,” said Jason Ayers, South Carolina Coastal Program Coordinator, US Fish, and Wildlife Service
“Given its scenic, ecological, and historic importance, the Ashley River corridor is one of the highest conservation priorities in the Lowcountry. The Oaks project builds on a series of investments the Conservation Bank has made here and hopefully catalyzes more land protection throughout the focus area,” said Raleigh West, Executive Director of the South Carolina Conservation Bank.
“Drayton Hall Preservation Trust could not be more pleased with the collaboration from the Lowcountry’s conservation and preservation organizations to see the protection of The Oaks come to fruition,” Carter Hudgins, Ph.D., President and CEO of Drayton Hall.