The critical link between forestland and clean water is coming into clearer focus with two separate projects underway across the state.
Lower Savannah Watershed Project
The South Carolina and Georgia Forestry Commissions, USDA Forest Service, Savannah River Clean Water Fund, Southeastern Partnership for Forests and Water, and The Longleaf Alliance are partnering to provide forest landowner education and forest land protection in the lower Savannah River watershed of Georgia and South Carolina.
The purpose of the Lower Savannah River Watershed Initiative is to support state forestry commissions and water utilities by strengthening the forest and drinking water connection through projects that enhance public surface water supplies.
The initiative will focus on voluntary strategic forest conservation, restoration, and management of priority lands. Projects that have high potential for cooperative forest conservation, sound management, and/or restoration and that demonstrate the value of forest cover to drinking water supplies are the focus. “Clean water is one of the many services provided by a healthy, well-managed forest. We are excited to partner with the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Savannah Clean River Water Fund, The Longleaf Alliance, and the four drinking water utilities along the Lower Savannah River to highlight the relationship between active forest management and clean drinking water,” said former South Carolina State Forester Gene Kodama at the initiative's inception.
Specifically, the Lower Savannah River Watershed Initiative will provide education and outreach to help:
- Improve forest management to benefit drinking water quality and other natural resource values, such as through implementation of forestry Best Management Practices;
- Link landowners with voluntary programs that offer financial assistance for conservation easements and other programs that offer long-term or permanent forest protection.
The project will be implemented by The Longleaf Alliance, which excels at voluntary education and assistance programs for landowners. They have a longstanding and active presence in both South Carolina and Georgia. The Savannah River Clean Water Fund has strong partnerships with drinking water utilities, the forestry sector, and conservation groups and has created a fund to support watershed protection projects that connect forestlands with drinking water protection.
The Longleaf Alliance’s Lisa Lord, will work with initiative partners to identify priority areas and interested landowners, and help them secure information needed to protect or better manage their woodlands, including financial assistance. She will be a key resource for forest landowners interested in managing their properties to improve watershed functions and values to benefit both forests and drinking water.
For more information about the LSRW initiative, click here.
Lake Wateree Watershed Summit
In addition, a project in partnership with the SC Rural Water Association in the Lake Wateree watershed is beginning. The kickoff summit meeting will be held May 24 in Camden, S.C. The meeting announcement can be found here. This project will focus on the portions of Fairfield, Chester, Lancaster, and Kershaw Counties that are within the Lake Wateree watershed and will take a similar approach as the Lower Savannah project.
For more information, contact SCFC Environmental Program Manager Herb Nicholson at HNicholson@scfc.gov or (803) 667-0815.