Featured Protected Lands

Thanks to the support of the Pee Dee Land Trust conservation community, we have now surpassed the 22,000 acre mark in protected lands as of November! We worked with landowners to complete three new easement projects in 2015 totaling 990 new acres protected. These include several exciting milestones.

The Back Swamp Woods is the first project in Florence County to be funded with a grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank – the primary source of state funding for land conservation. The Johnson Experimental Forest is our first ever conservation easement in Chesterfield County! The Tilghman Tract protects over a mile of frontage on the Great Pee Dee River, and is one of five conservation easements PDLT has completed along its namesake river. Each year we strive to reach new milestones for protecting the places we love that make the Pee Dee unique.

Johnson Experimental Forest 227 acres, Chesterfield County

After 15 years PDLT reached a milestone of completing its first conservation project in Chesterfield County by partnering with Knowlton (K.W.) Johnson to establish a conservation easement on the Johnson Experimental Forest (JEF). Dr. Johnson (Ph.D.) grew up on the property and has strong ties to it. He took the initiative to consolidate the land under his ownership by acquiring his sibling’s interest. JEF is a unique property that is being managed as a tree farm under the American Tree Farm System while also being used as a place for experimental forestry work in collaboration with the Clemson University Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation. The property includes 227 acres of varying aged loblolly pine, longleaf pine, and bottomland hardwoods. Several stands of loblolly and longleaf have been planted using new techniques for purposes of demonstration and research. The conservation agreement put in place will keep the property in one piece and as a working tree farm.

Tilghman Tract – 670 acres, Marlboro County

On October 21st, PDLT finalized its partnership with Cattails Tree Farm, LLC to permanently protect 670 acres along the Great Pee Dee River in Marlboro County. The Tilghman tract, as the property is known, is PDLT’s fifth conservation agreement along the region’s major river. With over a mile of river frontage, significant frontage on a black water creek, an oxbow lake, and extensive bottomland hardwood and cypress-tupelo forests, the Tilghman Tract boasts significant wildlife habitat and water resources that are now protected through enhanced forested buffers. In addition, Henegan Lake is one of the first oxbow lakes on the upper Pee Dee. Such lakes are unique and have been carved off of the main river channel over time. The agreement will keep the property from being fragmented, helping to ensure that it will remain intact and in forestry and recreational uses such as hunting and fishing.

Back Swamp Woods 93 acres, Florence County

PDLT recently completed one of its more complex conservation transactions to date. It began in July of 2013 when PDLT submitted an application to the South Carolina Conservation Bank for funds to purchase 93 acres of land surrounding the Back Swamp School House, a historic school house (circa 1921) in Florence County. The objective was to secure title to the property, protect it in perpetuity with a conservation easement, and transfer the property to the Back Swamp School Trust which owns the school house. Two years later that objective was complete. This was the first project in Florence County funded by the South Carolina Conservation Bank and added to the nearly 5,000 acres of protected lands in the immediate area. A very important public benefit that is often not incorporated into these agreements is public access and this project stands out in that regard. Limited public access was an objective for the property with the anticipation that it be managed to include walking trails for the public to enjoy.

Front Swamp

The owners of this 137 acre property, located along Old River Road in Florence County, permanently protected this parcel in 2012. The property is situated along a half mile of the Great Pee Dee River in an area of early settlement, and borders two significant properties with a focus on conservation: the 8,560 acre Marsh Furniture Heritage Preserve and the 2,701 acre Pee Dee Station Wildlife Management Area. Protection of the property ensures a scenic view along Old River Road, care for important agricultural fields, and protection of wetland and riverside forest.


With its long avenue of pecan trees and dogwoods, the historic house and farm at “Fairview” serve as a beautiful landmark for those traveling Highway 52 between Darlington and Florence. Protecting this 261-acre farm is essential to maintaining open farmland and a scenic view-scape in what has become an increasingly congested area. Fairview also boasts some of the most fertile and productive soils in Darlington County. Decades ago, the family embraced selective harvesting as a means to manage their pine woodlands while protecting wildlife habitat. They are proud that their farm, which has been in the family for over a century, will be protected in perpetuity through a conservation agreement with the Pee Dee Land Trust.

Moore’s Mill Farms

Located in Galivants Ferry, this 191 acre farm was protected because of its natural resources and historical context in Horry County. The farm includes a mixture of fields, hardwood and pine forest, and swamp that feeds the Little Pee Dee River. The farm was also the location of the Galivants Ferry Stump in 1908 and 1910, a political tradition that endures today.


Situated along 4 miles of the Lynches River, the property spans over 1,000 acres of pinewood and hardwood forest in Florence County. The site is important not only because of the diverse wildlife, recreational value and water quality benefits, but also its historical importance. The property is the location of Witherspoon Ferry – a location where General Francis Marion camped during the American Revolution – and the grave site of the Johnson family – parents of Captain William Johnson, for whom the town of Johnsonville was named.