ACE Basin Project Celebrates 25 Years of Land Conservation
The ACE Basin Project recently celebrated 25 years of unprecedented land conservation, protecting 217,000 acres of the South Carolina's Coastal Plain, in a grass roots effort that has become a model for conservation throughout the country.
One of the largest and most successful land conservation efforts in the state, the ACE Basin Project protects a vital part of the coast between the rapidly developing areas of Charleston to the north and Beaufort/Hilton Head to the south.
More than 450 invited guests gathered recently at Nemours Plantation Foundation on the Combahee River to celebrate the event. Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment of the U. S. Department of Agriculture delivered the keynote address.
The ACE Basin Project area extends from Edisto Beach inland to Orangeburg and Bamberg, covering a million acres in the drainage area of the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto rivers.
The project is a partnership effort by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and others, along with private landowners.
While not pristine after centuries of agriculture, timber harvest, and construction of managed wetlands, this large section of the state has largely been spared from commercial and residential development.
According to ACE Basin Task Force chairman Charles Lane, early visionaries of the project knew they needed the full cooperation of state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and, most importantly, private landowners.
One of the first landowners to support the project was the late Gaylord Donnelley, a noted conservationist and owner of Ashepoo Plantation. When he and other prominent landowners such as the late Hugh Lane, Sr. put conservation easements on the properties, other landowners soon followed and the project was off and running.
Although the original goal was to protect 90,000 acres that mark was reached in just a few years, and has now been far exceeded to 217,000 acres. More than 150 private landowners in the ACE Basin have placed conservation easements on their properties, permanently protecting 148,000 acres.
Press Coverage for the 25th Event
- ACE Basin 25th Anniversary: A Quarter-Century of the ACE Basin Conservation Project
- State celebrates 25th anniversary of ground-breaking ACE Basin Project
- Reclaiming the 'lost' history of the ACE Basin
- National Geographic's - South Carolina's ACE Basin
- Photograph Gallery of the 25th Event