AIKEN --- The Aiken Land Conservancy has a mission -- to preserve open space in Aiken County for future generations.
"We're not anti-development, but we want to preserve our rural character of Aiken County," said Dacre Stoker, the executive director of the group, formerly the Aiken County Open Land Trust.
Since 1991, the land trust has preserved more than 12,000 acres through land donations and conservation easements, and last month it added more.
Two landowners recently signed conservation easements preserving a total of more than 300 acres.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits the use of the property to protect its conservation values. An easement preserves the land in perpetuity and prevents undesirable development.
Scott Riviere signed an easement on 17 acres along Grace Avenue in Aiken's horse district.
Lee Dane, one of the first presidents of the land trust, signed a conservation easement on 300 acres of her farm in the Ridge Spring area that includes several streams and the north fork of the Edisto River where large hardwoods dating back to the Civil War will "be preserved as long as they can stand," she said.
Mr. Stoker said that there are 25 small land trusts throughout South Carolina and that "we need more people to think land conservancy."
The executive director said that although the Aiken Land Conservancy has been the best-kept secret in Aiken County, that's about to end.
"We intend to be much more visible," he said.
Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org.