Facts and FAQs
- 88,070 acres have full public access and allow recreational activities such as hunting and fishing. This includes 66,000 acres that are now available as well in the DNR WMA program for public hunting and fishing.
- Bank grants have funded an additional 98,688 acres with limited access with landowner permission.
- The Bank has protected 19,963 acres in 75 family farms at a cost of $16,566,456. The Conservation Bank is the only State agency that provides conservation easement funding to family farmers and farmlands.
- The Bank has protected thousands of acres of forestlands important to the forest industry as well as to our economy.
- Landowners' participation in the Bank is completely voluntary.
- The Bank has protected 294,126 acres state-wide at an average of $520 per acre.
- The Bank is prohibited by law from owning any interests in lands.
- The Bank is prohibited by law from providing any grant funds for management fees or operational costs on conservation easements.
- Bank grants are evenly distributed statewide between the Upstate, Midlands, and the LowCountry. The Bank has grants in all but two counties.
- The Bank has protected over 53,000 acres as well as hundreds of miles of river/creek frontage and estuarine lands in the Congaree, Wateree, and Santee river basin (Cowassee) with public boat-in campsites at and average cost of $300 per acre.
- The Bank has protected over 25,000 acres of land in the scenic Highway 11 corridor in the mountains of the upstate which is rich in natural resources and important to tourism and outdoor recreation.
1. Does a conservation easement have something to do with government rights-of-way?
Answer: A conservation easement or conservation agreement is a voluntary conservation option. It sets up a legal arrangement between a landowner and a government agency or land trust that ensures the land will never be developed. The land remains the private property of the landowner, who gets to decide what kinds of activities will be allowed or disallowed on the property.
2. When you sign a conservation agreement, do you give up all your rights to your property?
Answer: Your conservation agreement is tailored specifically to your needs—in fact, you help design it. Its only purpose is to preserve the conservation values of your property, so you continue to control your land and any financial or other values you derive from it.
3. Will a conservation agreement give the government the ability take over my property and management decisions?
Answer: You and the conservation organization that holds the agreement work together to oversee your land, and you remain free to manage it for recreation, timber or other natural resources that benefit you personally or financially. The SC Conservation Bank has no authority for eminent domain.
4. Do I have a choice in land trust partners?
Answer: Your potential land trust partners know that choice is important to you, so nothing will be forced on you when entering a conservation agreement.
5. Do conservation agreements reduce the value of your property and make it difficult for your children or grandchildren to profit from it?
Answer: A conservation agreement can significantly reduce the estate taxes your heirs will have to pay, making it easier and more affordable for them to keep the land intact. In many cases, conservation easements can also increase the value as well as associated tax benefits such as income tax and estate taxes.
The truth is that conservation agreements can protect the woods and wildlife you value while leaving a lasting legacy for future generations. They are legally binding, however, so you’ll want to take your time when considering whether an easement is a good option for your land.