In the last two years, Heritage Preservation Trust has permanently conserved over 15,000 acres of valuable habitats. These projects are spread across much of the United States, from Florida to Missouri, West Virginia to Mississippi, and locations in between. We are extremely proud of the conservation impact we are making. Following is a summary of our important conservation work.
Heritage Preservation Trust has now protected over 5,000 acres in Alabama. These properties include numerous high priority habitats, like rock cliffs, pit caves, mesic hardwood forest, and mature dry hardwood forest. The conservation values include the preservation of relatively natural habitat, the preservation of open space for multiple benefits, the protection of prime agricultural soils from development and the protection of water quality, air quality and climate change.
In 2017, Heritage Preservation Trust was excited to place over 800 acres under easement in South Central Florida. These important conservation properties have dry prairie, scrubby flatwoods, depression marshes and hardwood hammock ; all habitats listed in the Florida Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy and State Wildlife Action Plan as high priority habitats. These habitats have been protected as Natural Areas that will not be converted to agriculture or development. Additionally, Florida Scrub Jay (federally listed) and Gopher Frog (state listed) have been documented here, and are new records for these species in the area. The properties' high quality habitat provides excellent potential for rare species such as wood stork, Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, crested caracara, sandhill crane and Bachman's sparrow.
Working with conservation-minded landowners in Georgia, Heritage Preservation Trust has been able to protect almost 6,000 acres of valuable habitat via conservation easement. Like all of our projects, this acreage includes important high priority habitats and conservation values. For example, these properties include high quality examples of Bottomland Hardwood Forest and Mesic Hardwood Forest, both listed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources as high priority habitats in the State Wildlife Action Plan. These habitats have been designated as Special Natural Areas and will be permanently protected.
Our work in Georgia also has significant water quality impacts. Much of the acreage lies in the Lower Oconee River Watershed. The Oconee River is designated a high priority stream for conservation in the 2005 Georgia Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy due to the presence of rare species and aquatic communities. The river provides habitat for Shortnose Sturgeon, Robust Redhorse, several mussel species, and contains important springs. The river was also deemed globally significant in the 2015 revision of the State Wildlife Action Plan.
In South Carolina Heritage Preservation Trust has protected almost 2,000 acres. These properties, located in the midlands and the upstate, provide public benefits including scenic enjoyment and public access, which are important components to the mission of Heritage Preservation Trust. Highlights from the South Carolina conservation accomplishments include protection of important lands within the watershed area for the Broad River in the Santee-Piedmont Ecobasin. This ecobasin has only 3.9% of its area protected from development according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
2018 saw Heritage Preservation Trust conduct its first work in West Virginia, conserving 900 acres near the juncture of the Gauley, New and Kanawha Rivers. The benefits from this conservation success story are many, including the protection of air and water quality, the preservation of open space pursuant to governmental conservation policy and the preservation of a host of relatively natural habitats. This land is full of history and value, and we are excited to know it is protected in perpetuity.