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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

March 30, 2012

$500 reward offered in theft of endangered plants from Greenville preserve

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the conviction of persons who stole endangered plants from Bunched Arrowhead Heritage Preserve in northern Greenville County.

On March 23, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff discovered a section of endangered bunched arrowhead (Sagittaria fasciculata) plants missing from the property, which harbors one of the best populations in the world. A 2-foot-by-2-foot square-shaped section of plants was illegally removed sometime between March 20-23. This was not a case of someone picking up a single plant out of curiosity; whoever stole the plants came prepared with tools to cut, dig and remove the plants en masse.

Anyone with information regarding the theft is encouraged to call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-922-5431. Callers can remain anonymous. A reward of $500 is offered for information that results in conviction or in the recovery of the plants. The bunched arrowhead plants can be linked to the preserve by genetic testing.

In 1979, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined bunched arrowhead to be in need of protection through the Endangered Species Act. The diminutive wetland plant is found only in two counties in the world: Greenville County in South Carolina and Henderson County in North Carolina. It isn’t a showy plant; the simple leaves remain under shallow water, and the flower is small and white with three petals.

Bunched Arrowhead Heritage Preserve, in Greenville County, was established in 1987 by DNR with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy to protect rare piedmont seepage forests and the bunched arrowhead plants. Properties dedicated as heritage preserves under the Heritage Trust Act follow strict regulations to ensure South Carolina’s most significant natural and cultural resources are protected in perpetuity for all generations.

Frank Holleman, an award winning South Carolina conservationist, noted: “Because of the bunched arrowhead’s rarity, a theft of any plants is a serious harm to the species and its future survival, and because of the fact that Greenville County is one of only two counties where this globally rare plant exists, a theft of any plants is a serious injury to the natural heritage of Greenville County. This theft of a significant section of plants is a serious crime against our natural resources.”

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