Conservation organization purchases 328 acres near Ridgeville

The Open Space Institute has purchased 328 acres of land outside of Ridgeville for plans to protect drinking water and enhance regional wildlife connectivity.

The Open Space Institute, a New York-based conservation organization, has purchased 328 acres of land near Ridgeville, with plans to protect local wildlife and drinking water.

Consisting of forested wetlands, the “Ridgeville tract” contains both sides of Timothy Creek, which connects Four Holes Swamp to the Edisto River – the longest undammed blackwater river in the North America and a source of drinking water for the tri-county, according to a press release from OSI.

An accredited regional land trust is creating a conservation easement on the tract, which will permanently protect the land, where much of the surrounding area has turned into industrial sites for large-scale companies like Volvo. Ridgeville Commerce Park is also the site of booming business.

OSI said the conservation funding is stemming from wetlands mitigation dollars - the same money source that's helped OSI and partners protect more than 10,000 acres statewide over the last four years, according to the release. 

“Protection of the Ridgeville property, in a developed section of the Lowcountry, is a huge conservation win for the citizens of the tri-county area,” said Kim Elliman, OSI president and CEO, in a statement. “These projects truly demonstrate the value of protecting land for habitat and drinking water. OSI is proud of our ongoing work in South Carolina and grateful to our many partners and local supporters.”

The property is also located near Francis Beidler Forest, managed by the National Audubon Society.

“The creative and effective use of wetlands mitigation dollars has set the stage for permanent protection of the Lowcountry’s most critical sites,” said Ashley Demosthenes, CEO of Lowcountry Land Trust, in the release. “This project is another example of innovative conservation.”

According to OSI officials, in recent years their organization has worked to conserve large-scale tracts of land not just in South Carolina but also in Maine, Virginia, Georgia and other states. OSI also works with landowners and local land trusts to acquire properties to protect diverse landscapes; preserve habitat; ensure water quality; facilitate climate adaptation; and enhance recreational access, the release stated.

Across the tri-county alone, OSI is in the process of protecting and restoring more than 6,000 acres it owns. Officials said the organization is actively working to protect more of Timothy Creek and link this tract with Audubon’s property and other protected lands.

For more information on OSI visit its website.