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The state of South Carolina announced an addition of more than 7,000 acres of protected land to the Cooper River Focus Area project in Berkeley County on Feb. 24 during a dedication ceremony at Wappaoolah Plantation south of Moncks Corner.

"Through a unique conservation partnership, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), The Conservation Fund, the Forest Legacy Program, Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust, Mrs. P.O. Mead Jr. (Margaret I. Mead), Robert M. Mead, Barbara C. Mead, Carol Mead Koopman, and P.O. Mead III, have protected four large tracts, which include Wappaoolah, Southern South Mulberry and Mepkin Plantations. These tracts have important wildlife habitat in the Cooper River Focus Area," according to DNR director John Frampton, who spoke during the Feb. 24 dedication ceremony at Wappaoolah Plantation south of Moncks Corner in Berkeley County.

"Thanks to the efforts of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, former U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Henry Brown and Congressman Jim Clyburn, Forest Legacy dollars, provided through the U.S. Forest Service, were used to purchase a conservation easement on 6,328-acres at only 73 percent of the easement's value," Frampton said. "The remainder was a generous donation from the Mead Family. As part of the deal, Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust also holds a donated easement to an additional 1,000 acres of the Mead property. The property will be protected in perpetuity and managed for timber and wildlife."

The Conservation Fund contributed donations and grants to cover costs of the transaction. "On behalf of future generations, I salute the Mead family and the state of South Carolina for their tremendous leadership, courage, and commitment to conservation," said Larry Selzer, president of The Conservation Fund. "As this project demonstrates, protecting private lands for public benefit must be a key part of conserving America's outdoor heritage."

"The Mead family is dedicated to the conservation of wildlife habitat and healthy forest management for generations to come," said Bobby Mead, representing the Mead Family. "Our family grew up hunting, fishing and managing the land on both sides of the Cooper River. We are proud to be a part of this effort to protect the Cooper River Basin through voluntary measures."

Commenting on the success of the project, S.C. Governor Mark Sanford said, "Protecting the way South Carolina looks and feels for our kids and grandkids is going to continue to be one of our administration's central priorities. We think it's critical not only in enhancing quality of life in our state, but also in keeping intact one of our state's most unique competitive advantages. That's why in addition to our work on this project or the original Bonneau Ferry deal last year that preserved some 10,700-acres, we're going to continue looking for opportunities to work together with friends in the public and private sectors to leverage funds that accomplish those objectives. It's also ultimately why we pushed to get the Conservation Bank funded for the first time in its history in last year's state budget, and why our executive budget this year proposes another $15 million for this critical effort."
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