Florence Based Non-Profit, Local Leaders Celebrate Home for Pee Dee Conservation
Florence-Based Non-Profit, Local Leaders Celebrate Home for Pee Dee Conservation
Florence, S.C. -- June 7, 2022 -- Pee Dee Land Trust (PDLT) along with supporters and local leaders today celebrated the Ribbon Cutting and Building Dedication of their new office in downtown Florence at 448 West Cheves Street. Dating to the 1950’s, the brick craftsman style home was transitioned in the late 1980’s to commercial office use. PDLT invested in renovations that honor and celebrate the ongoing revitalization in this area of Florence, including repurposing a portion of the property into an urban garden showcasing native plants and trees.
“Our land protection work permanently protects the conservation values of landowners’ property and our Board has worked diligently over the last twenty-three years to ensure organizational stability. We were humbled by the most generous gift from Dr. Genie Lee’s estate that allowed us to acquire a permanent base to continue our work in the nine counties in the Pee Dee Watershed,” commented Keith Williamson, Board of Directors Chairman, Pee Dee Land Trust.
Since its inception in 1999 as an all-volunteer organization, PDLT has grown to six full-time and two part-time staff members along with a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors. Dr. Lee’s estate gift could not have come at a more perfect time as PDLT had grown out of the rented space they had called home for the past ten years. Staff talked with the Lee Family and Dr. Lee’s professional consultants, and everyone agreed the idea to purchase a property to permanently memorialize Dr. Lee’s love for the Pee Dee Watershed was an ideal use for this amazing gift.
“Dr. Lee’s estate gift and the choice for PDLT to invest in a permanent home in downtown Florence were very personal for me,” said PDLT Executive Director, Lyles Cooper. “I grew up down the street from Genie and her family; she was always so caring and had a smile on her face at all PDLT events. It was very important to me that we created a home for our staff family while contributing to downtown revitalization. We are proud to be able to dedicate our office to Genie. Her commitment to the preservation of the Pee Dee Watershed has truly been an inspiration to the Pee Dee Land Trust community.”
PDLT looks forward to further enhancing the property in the future to include an educational pavilion behind the garden. The pavilion will serve as a space for PDLT outreach opportunities with landowners and the public, as well as a space for partner agencies to host land management educational forums.
About Pee Dee Land Trust
Pee Dee Land Trust focuses on the Pee Dee watershed, which covers nine+ counties of the Pee Dee watershed in South Carolina: Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg. Its mission is to protect, and to promote an appreciation of, the significant natural, agricultural, and historical resources of the Pee Dee Watershed through voluntary land conservation and educational programs. PDLT has a toolbox full of options to help landowners who are interested in conservation such as accepting donations of land or conservation easements. There are endless options of ways to support PDLT as an individual or as an organization, including annual Membership, event sponsorship, hosting experiences, donations to one of the endowments, land donations and planned estate giving opportunities.
With its 90th conservation project to date, PDLT has now protected over 36,800 acres in the Pee Dee Watershed. While remaining in private ownership, the lands protected through conservation easements held by PDLT ensure that special places will be available for farming, forestry, and recreation for future generations. Through the use of permanent agreements, PDLT and landowners work as partners to ensure that land use activities on private property are limited in order to preserve key conservation values which benefit the public. These values include open space such as rural scenic views along roads and rivers, habitat for wildlife including game and non-game species, and the protection of farm and forest land to ensure it remains in farming and forestry rather than being converted to other uses.
The Greater Pee Dee Watershed is the second largest watershed on the east coast of the USA. PDLT focuses on protecting significant resources from the sandhills along the North Carolina border, all the way down to the Winyah Bay. Current priority focus areas for PDLT include the Black, Waccamaw, Sampit, Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, and Lynches Rivers, along with major tributaries including Black Mingo, Black Creek, Thompson Creek, Three Creeks. Our overall goal is connecting protected properties to create and grow blueways and greenways throughout our watershed.
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