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By Katawba Valley Land Trust

A conservation easement has been donated by Stoneboro Plantation LLC in the Stoneboro area of southern Lancaster County and northern Kershaw County to the Katawba Valley Land Trust.

The easement totals 564 acres, of which 509 are in Kershaw County.

The property encompasses the headwaters of Little Beaver Creek, which flows into Beaver Creek and empties into the northern tip of Lake Wateree.

The upland forests are open and park-like due to the prescribed fire management strategy. The open spaces are full of native grasses and shrubs.

Beautyberry, a shrub with deep purple berries, is prolific in these stands and is known to be a valuable food source for more than 40 species of birds. There are also tremendous granite boulders that riddle the landscape. Oak-hickory forests are present throughout the property, and sweet gums and tulip trees shelter many of the wetland habitats.

Wild turkey, mourning dove, bobwhite quail and white-tailed deer are abundant on the property.

“This is an example of a rare combination. Any land is worth protecting, but to have an easement on land where the owner is using wildlife management strategies such as prescribed fire is extremely fortuitous,”  said Austin Jenkins, executive director of the land trust. “ From an ecological perspective, this enhances the conservation value many times over.”

D. Lindsay Pettus, president of the trust, said KVLT is grateful to John Burlingame, manager of the Stoneboro Plantation, and his partners for their careful stewardship of this property and their willingness to protect it with an easement.

“This action will ensure that a large tract of land with great wildlife habitat and natural character will be protected forever,” Pettus said.

“With this initial conservation easement in the Stoneboro area, it is our hope that our neighboring property owners will also consider their land holdings for additional conservation easements for the benefit of future generations,” Burlingame said.

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a land owner and the land trust that places restrictions on future development, protecting land in perpetuity. Land owners may seek tax benefits for the value of the easement donated.

With this easement, the land trust has protected 7,550 acres of land in five South Carolina counties. For details about the easement program, contact Jenkins at 285-5801 or katawba@kvlt.org.