Conservation easement protects missing link

The donated conservation easement on Kirkfield contributes to the long-term conservation efforts in the ACE Basin and connects other protected habitats in South Carolina.

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Rice fields on Kirkfield easement.

Todd and Peggy Watkins recently donated a conservation easement on one of the key strategic wetland and waterfowl properties in the ACE Basin. “Kirkfield” is 165 acres of rice fields and wetlands connected by managed waterways to the expansive E.F. Hollings National Wildlife Refuge to the west and the wildlife preserve of Nemours Wildlife Foundation to the east. This special place serves as important habitat for a range of species and provides a scenic backdrop of deep importance to the Watkins. Their love of sporting, wildlife, and the scenic landscapes made permanent protection a natural fit for their new ACE Basin home and Ducks Unlimited is grateful for the opportunity to partner with them in the stewardship and conservation of the land long-term.

Kirkfield is a scenic property with a long stretch of road frontage on River Road, including quintessential Lowcountry views of rice fields, wetlands, pine timber, forested wetlands and pasture land. Its habitats are enhanced by four historic rice field impoundments that provide a range of opportunity to manage soils, vegetation and water not typically seen on a tract this size.

The property has been of great importance to the ACE Basin Task Force as a conspicuous un-protected tract within a large complex of conservation lands. The land grants on these properties go back to the 1730s and carry with them the rural heritage of the Lowcountry. Protection of Kirkfield contributes significantly to the long-term success of the conservation efforts in the ACE Basin by adding to and connecting the permanently protected public lands around it and keeping it as it has been for centuries.

The Watkins are especially excited about the conservation of their property because they are both passionate about wildlife on a personal level. Peggy is an acclaimed wildlife artist whose landscapes, sporting scenes and animal paintings have been featured in wildlife and sporting magazines, as well as art events and galleries for years. She was the featured artist at the 2008 Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE), held in Charleston, South Carolina every February. Kirkfield will surely provide years of artistic inspiration in addition to its excellent duck and turkey hunting and its relaxing rural setting.