ABOUT: The Conservation Bank
The South Carolina Conservation Bank was established in 2002 to improve the quality of life in our State by providing funding for land conservation projects that include farms, forests, waterways, historical properties, archeological sites and urban parks. It’s one of the most effective and successful conservation programs in the country. To date, it has protected over 280,000 acres of special places across South Carolina.
How It Works
Funding comes from a share of the state’s deed recording fee revenues. Of every $1.35 collected by the state, $0.25 is credited to the Conservation Bank Trust Fund, to be used to ensure that lands with great conservation or historic significance are not developed. It is a sensible way to fund conservation because the fees are collected when land is sold, and the sales are often to developers.
The Conservation Bank makes grants to nonprofit partners on a competitive basis, which they in turn use to protect high-priority sites, either by purchasing the properties outright or by placing them under a conservation easement. A conservation easement protects properties from extensive subdivision and development, by paying a negotiated amount to the owner while still allowing the owners to continue to use and enjoy the property. The grants are evenly distributed statewide among the Upstate, Midlands, Pee Dee and Lowcountry.
Many property purchases funded by the Conservation Bank go to create new public parks and recreation areas. Public hunting lands across the state have been greatly expanded through funding from the Conservation Bank. Iconic places like Stumphouse Mountain in Oconee County, Jones Gap State Park in Greenville County, and Rocky Point in Georgetown County have been opened and expanded for public recreation.
The Conservation Bank is prohibited by law from owning land. As property is bought and sold, funds are transferred to the Conservation Bank to re-invest through grants in priority green spaces, historical properties and the natural treasures that are our salt marshes, Southern Blue Ridge mountains, forests, creeks and rivers to name a few.
What are some of the more common and visible examples of areas protected by Conservation Bank funding?
- More than 53,000 acres plus hundreds of miles of river and creek frontage lands in the Congaree, Wateree, and Santee river basins, with public boat-in campsites
- More 25,000 acres of land in the scenic Highway 11 corridor in the mountains of the Upstate; land that is rich in natural resources and important to tourism and outdoor recreation
- Lake Conestee Nature Park in Greenville County
- Rocky River Fork in Anderson County
- Isaqueena Falls in Oconee County
- Additions to Jones Gap and Paris Mountain State Parks in Greenville County
- and More Coming
The Conservation Bank Act empowers the South Carolina Conservation Bank to award grants to eligible trust fund recipients for the purchase of interests in land so long as the grants meet the purposes of the Act and other proper criteria as contained in the Act. An “eligible trust fund” recipient is defined as:
- The SC Department of Natural Resources; The SC Forestry Commission; and The SC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.
- A municipality of SC and any agency, commission, or Instrumentality of such a municipality.
- A not-for-profit charitable corporation or land trust authorized to do business in SC whose principal activity is the acquisition and management of interests in land for conservation or historic preservation purposes and which has tax-exempt status as a public charity under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
If a landowner is interested in conveying a conservation easement on his property it must be to a qualified entity who will hold the easement agreement and be responsible for the terms of the easement.
We urgently need your support in our efforts to make sure reauthorization happens.
The first step is simply providing us with your contact information, so we can keep you updated on our efforts. Once you are on our communications list, we will provide the ideas and methods for you to let your elected representative in Columbia know how important the conservation bank is to you personally. Remember, they are there to represent you, and not play politics.