Public-Private Partnership Adds 269 Acres To Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge

May 18, 2012

Lake at Carolina Sandhills NWR

Carolina Sandhills NWR. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Mcbee, S.C. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed an acquisition of 269 acres of forestland in Chesterfield County. Formerly owned by Timberland Investment Resources, LLC, a timber investment management organization, the property was purchased by The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit conservation organization, and held until funding was available for the Service to acquire it. The lands are now part of the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).

Surrounded by refuge lands on three sides, the tract provides habitat for many of the same species found on the refuge, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobwhite quail, Eastern fox squirrel, and forest-dwelling migratory birds. The purchase was made possible with funds from the Service and with support from The Conservation Fund.

This tract was formerly part of the extensive holdings of Bowater, Incorporated. Timberland Investment Resources purchased the tract for investment purposes on behalf of their clients. This ownership pattern provided stability, although management favored fast growing, short rotation pines.

Of significant management interest is the ability to use this tract as a demonstration site for longleaf pine ecosystem restoration. The Carolina Sandhills NWR is one of only two refuges in the Southeast Region designated as a demonstration refuge for longleaf pine restoration and management. The newly-acquired parcel is currently forested in loblolly pine, an off-site pine species for Sandhills region. The Service will work with conservation partners to restore the site to longleaf pine. Restoring these lands to native longleaf habitat and associated groundcover will provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate the restoration process to private landowners.

Longleaf pine with its extensive tap root and ability to tolerate frequent fires is the naturally occurring and dominant species on the deep, sandy soils characteristic of the Sandhills. The refuge, which includes 46,000 acres of longleaf forest, contains one of the largest remaining tracts of longleaf pine in its range. At one time, there was more than 92 million acres of longleaf pine from southern Virginia south to Florida and west to eastern Texas. Today, longleaf pine occurs on approximately three million acres, less than three percent of its former range.

“Our partners and the landowners who have made the choice to conserve their property have made the Carolina Sandhills Refuge, as well as the broader conservation efforts of the Sandhills Longleaf Pine Conservation Partnership, a reality,” said Allyne Askins, refuge manager. “The efforts of The Conservation Fund made this investment for wildlife and people possible. Partnerships like this continue to protect these important natural resources for future generations.”

“What makes this acquisition even more exciting is that not only are we adding lands to the conservation landscape, but we will involve more partners and surrounding landowners in its restoration and management,” said Jason Johnson, South Carolina Director of The Conservation Fund. “We are proud to help the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue its investment in longleaf pine management, restoration and protection in the region.” 


About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.

About The Partners

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov or follow us on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/usfws.

Press Release Contacts

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org

Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, (843) 335-8401