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#06-95 April 10, 2006

DNR purchases, protects 8,560 acres in Marion County

The Marsh Furniture Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was dedicated in a special public ceremony on Friday, April 7, 2006, in Marion County. The Marsh tract is Marion’s second such preserve, owned and managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, in addition to the Little Pee Dee Heritage Preserve.

Acquisition of the Marsh tract by the state of South Carolina ensures the permanent protection of significant wildlife habitat on the Great Pee Dee River and protects water quality in the region.

Catfish Creek flowing into Great Pee Dee

In December 2005, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) purchased the 8,560-acres of the Marsh tract near Marion for $7 million from Marsh Furniture Company, based in High Point, N.C. The acquisition was funded with $2 million from the S.C. Conservation Bank and $5 million from the DNR Heritage Trust program.

“Since 1991, under a lease agreement, South Carolinians have enjoyed public access for hunting, fishing and other wildlife related activities on the Marsh Furniture Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Marion,” according to DNR director John Frampton. “Thanks to the Marsh family’s long standing commitment to conservation, this vast expanse of recreational land and important wildlife habitat is now in public hands and protected in perpetuity.”

Physical features of the property include 8.5 miles of river frontage and a significant bottomland hardwood forest on the Great Pee Dee River, which enhance and protect the water quality of the river and its tributaries. The preserve’s upland areas consist primarily of various aged loblolly pine stands with great opportunities for longleaf pine restoration. The tract provides valuable habitat for deer, turkey, wood duck and quail. The Marsh tract was once known for its quail population and has tremendous restoration potential for this species. The Pee Dee River corridor provides habitat for threatened and endangered species such as wood storks and short-nosed sturgeon. Protecting the corridor is also key to sustaining the current black bear population of Coastal S.C.

“The project is especially significant because similar tracts in the area are rapidly being split and sold,” according to Marvin Davant, executive director of the S.C. Conservation Bank. “The tract is located within 45 minutes of the Myrtle Beach area, one of the most rapidly developing areas in the nation. The dedication of the beautiful Marsh Furniture property is the celebration of a vision to conserve and protect our wild and natural areas. A vision that reaches well into the future.”           

Davant added that, “The SC Conservation Bank was established in 2001 for the purpose of making grants and loans to public and private entities to acquire land, green space and wildlife habitat worthy of conservation, such as the Marsh tract.”
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