In 2012 Southeast Regional Land Conservancy added three thousand one hundred forty-six (3,146) additional acres of diverse communities to its protected reserves. SERLC now has sixteen thousand forty-four (16,044) acres in conservation across the Southeastern United States.
In the South Carolina Sandhills region we added one thousand nine hundred sixty-six (1,966) acres to previous easements to create an important and very extensive reserve of five thousand one hundred thirteen (5,113) acres! The continuity afforded in large land areas is critical for sustainable habitat for plant and animal species. Habitat value is enhanced exponentially when connectivity occurs because habitat potential and diversity is increased. Large land area means that the species within can maintain better genetic diversity and have larger foraging/nesting habitats, and find ever-disappearing forest interior conditions. Protected are: abundant sources of clean fresh water for future drinking, commercial, recreational, and ecological uses, rare species habitats, bottomland hardwood forests, rare old growth longleaf pine forests, pine stands, open fields, wetlands, cypress-gum swamps, and other natural communities.
In the high mountains of North Carolina, two hundred (200) acres were added to previous easements creating a cumulative total of one thousand four hundred eighty-seven (1,487) protected acres. The Conservation Area occurs on forested high slopes that form the views seen by the public from numerous valleys and roads in the mountain region. This includes the city of Asheville, which relies heavily on tourism and scenic values. The easements hold lush cove forests, clear bouldery creeks, rare old growth forests, state Watchlist species, open meadows, boulderfield communities, a variety of forests of differing ages, wildlife fields, and other communities. These high quality mature forests contain Old Growth attributes. Historically nearly all the Old Growth forests have succumbed to logging, clearing, or development, and have become quite rare. The Significant Habitat area also takes in riparian areas which are important to biodiversity and water quality and boulderfield forests which are an uncommon community type. The springs and creeks are a part of the headwaters for the French Broad River which supplies over 1 million people with drinking water, as well as scenery and recreation.
In the rolling South Carolina Piedmont, a new tract of nine hundred eighty (980) acres was placed under easement. The land adjoins US Army Corps of Engineers lands protecting shoreline for Lake Thurmond (known as Clark’s Hill Lake in GA). This popular lake is one of the largest lake east of the Mississippi River and forms the border between South Carolina and Georgia. It is within the Savannah River Flyway, an important migratory route for both game and non-game avian species. Adjoining both the easement and the USACE land are Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Area waterfowl impoundments which enhance wildlife management. Calhoun Falls State Park (A 318-acre park with three campgrounds and nature trails) is nearby. The easement is also not far from tracts protected by SERLC easements on the Georgia side of the lake, thus increasing the regional conservation effect.