The Nature Conservancy announced it has transferred almost 800 acres in Oconee County to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The addition about triples the size of the Stumphouse Mountain Heritage Preserve.
Members of the environmental group said the organization purchased the 791 acres known as Turnip Top in July for $2 million. On Dec. 10, the Nature Conservancy made the transfer to the state.
Turnip Top takes its name from the 1,600-foot-high mountain summit on the property. The forests on the land are home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, wild turkeys, deer, bats, Pickerel frogs and a host of plant life.
“This year has shown us the importance of having local natural areas to get outside with our families,” Dale Threatt-Taylor, executive director for the Nature Conservancy in South Carolina, said in a release. “It feels particularly good to announce this win for people and nature when these resources are in such high demand.”
For years, Turnip Top has been a conservation priority due to its closeness to protected land and impact on water quality, according to the group. That impact includes headwater streams that flow into Lake Keowee — a significant water source for the Upstate.
“We are truly excited about being able to expand Stumphouse Mountain Heritage Preserve with the acquisition of the Turnip Top tract,” said Emily Cope, SCDNR deputy director for wildlife and freshwater fisheries. “We are extremely grateful to both The Nature Conservancy and the South Carolina Conservation Bank for their continuous support of conservation and expanding public recreation opportunities in South Carolina.”
The South Carolina Conservation Bank, Top Family Foundation, Pete and Sally Smith Foundation, Hudson Land and Timber and members of the Nature Conservancy in South Carolina supported the purchase.
This isn’t the first time the environmental organization has stepped in to support the Stumphouse Mountain Heritage Preserve. The Nature Conservancy assisted community members in raising over $4 million previously to have the land protected.