DARLINGTON - The Pee Dee Land Trust recently completed an ambitious project preserving and supporting the restoration of 775 acres of bottomland forest in Darlington County.
Five different landowners along Lynches River Road were involved and a combined four miles of frontage on the Lynches River were protected. The project was developed in fulfillment of mitigation requirements for wetlands impacted by road improvement projects in Florence and Darlington counties, including TV Road, Alligator Road, U.S. 378, S.C. 51/Pamplico Highway, and U.S. 76.
Under the federal Clean Water Act wetlands disturbed as part of a road project are required to be offset by improvements made to degraded wetlands in the same watershed or nearby geographic area. In this case, formerly drained and logged bottomlands along the Lynches River floodplain will be restored to hardwood swamp by ICA Engineering, Inc., with the oversight of the SC Department of Transportation and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The land will continue to be privately held by multiple landowners, and the Pee Dee Land Trust will have the perpetual responsibility of overseeing the conservation agreements to ensure that the bottomland forests and river frontage continue to mature and thrive as a natural area for the benefit of people, plants, wildlife, and water quality. Landowners are compensated for placing the agreements on their land, which will limit future development or timber harvesting to keep the land in its natural state.
“We are thrilled to have worked with these dedicated landowners and within the regulatory system to secure and restore valuable forests along this largely undeveloped river” said David Harper, executive director of the Pee Dee Land Trust.
The Pee Dee Land Trust now protects more than 16,000 acres in the Pee Dee Region. While remaining in private ownership, the lands protected by PDLT preserve land along the rivers and streams we fish and swim in; farms and forests we farm and hike in; hunting and fishing lands we recreate on; and more.
Seth Cook, Director of Land Conservation for the Pee Dee Land Trust, shared his thoughts on the project.
“Conservation along the Lynches River is important because it is a state-designated Scenic River for 111 miles to where it meets the Great Pee Dee River and is an outstanding water trail enjoyed by many paddlers and fishermen,” said Cook.