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Middleton Place Woodlands Easement Brings Total Acres Protected

within the Ashley River Historic District to More Than 12,000

CHARLESTON, SC, February 28, 2008 – The Ashley River historic district, graced with centuries-old plantations and oaks dressed in Spanish moss, represents the uniquely beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry. Now, a part of this legacy has been protected forever from encroaching development.

A team of public and private partners, led by The Conservation Fund, Ducks Unlimited and the South Carolina Conservation Bank, announced today that 3,732 acres of Middleton Place Woodlands have been conserved, protecting the historic beauty of Ashley River Road and the surrounding land.

The Conservation Fund worked with the owners of Middleton Place Woodlands to facilitate the placement of a conservation easement on this historic property, solidifying the family’s generations-long commitment to preserving the property in its natural state while allowing only limited potential for future development. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that calls for the landowner to permanently restrict the type and amount of development that occurs on his or her property. Ducks Unlimited will monitor and enforce the easement.

The South Carolina Conservation Bank and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Lowcountry Forest Conservation Project each provided partial funding for the easement. The Conservation Fund is providing bridge financing for the remaining balance, backed by a guarantee from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, in anticipation of additional funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. The Lowcountry Open Lands Trust and The Nature Conservancy also assisted with this complex transaction.

“The Middleton Place Woodlands easement is an important part of the multi-year effort to protect South Carolina’s Lowcountry,” said Jason Johnson, South Carolina director for The Conservation Fund. “We are pleased to be a part of these efforts and are thankful to all the partners for working to protect the historic and scenic character of the Ashley River corridor in the face of development.”

Located in the fastest growing county in South Carolina, the Ashley River historic district is considered one of the country’s most endangered places. Three years ago, Ducks Unlimited began its Ashley River Historic District Project, an effort aimed at protecting critical habitat and undeveloped land between Charleston and Summerville. With the Middleton Place Woodlands easement and another easement recently secured by Ducks Unlimited on 2,441 acres of Millbrook Plantation, more than 12,000 acres have been protected within the historic district.

“We are always glad to be involved with projects like this one,” said Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Programs Craig LeSchack. “Protecting areas through permanent easements is an excellent way to provide for future generations, and permanent protection of areas that are so historically and ecologically significant is exceptionally gratifying.”

While many visitors to the Lowcountry of South Carolina have taken Ashley River Road from Charleston to the Middleton Place National Historic Landmark, run by the nonprofit Middleton Place Foundation, few know of the 5,800 acres across the road known as Middleton Place Woodlands. The property contains wetlands and bottomland hardwoods that harbor wood ducks, little blue herons and endangered wood storks.

“Middleton Place is an icon in the historic plantation district and represents a special time in the history of South Carolina that typifies moss-draped cypress trees, wide verandas and a gentler way of life,” said Marvin Davant, director of the South Carolina Conservation Bank. “It is a statement of our traditions and our heritage. It is important to the future of South Carolina to recognize the value of our past. The South Carolina Conservation Bank is pleased and honored that it could be a partner in conserving this wonderful property.”

For the Duell Family, owners of the Middleton Place Woodlands, it was an opportunity to preserve their family heritage on a property that has been in their family since before the Revolutionary War.

“Our family is pleased to make possible these conservation easements that protect, in perpetuity, the rural character of the Historic Ashley River Plantation District,” said Charles Duell. “With the Carter and Hanahan families placing similar easements on Millbrook and Uxbridge plantations, we have gone a long way to protecting the entire District from additional unwanted, high-density development. We all owe a debt of thanks to The Conservation Fund, The Conservation Bank, Ducks Unlimited and others who worked so hard to make this easement possible.”

Vanessa Vaughan, The Conservation Fund, (703) 908-5809
Craig LeSchack, Ducks Unlimited, (843) 745-9110
Marvin Davant, South Carolina Conservation Bank, (803) 734-0634
Colby Hollifield, Middleton Place, LLC, (843) 696-3384

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About The Conservation Fund

The Conservation Fund is the nation's foremost environmental nonprofit dedicated to protecting America's land and water legacy for current and future generations. Seeking innovative conservation solutions for the 21st century, the Fund works to integrate economic and environmental goals. Since its founding in 1985, the Fund has helped its partners safeguard wildlife habitat, working landscapes, community “greenspace” and historic sites totaling more than 6 million acres. With 1% fundraising costs and 97% program allocation, The Conservation Fund is recognized as the nation's top rated environmental nonprofit by both the American Institute of Philanthropy and Charity Navigator. http://www.conservationfund.org

About Ducks Unlimited

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization having conserved over 12 million acres. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

About South Carolina Conservation Bank

The Conservation Bank was founded in 2002 to help conserve significant lands in the state of South Carolina and to improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians and visitors by protecting the heritage and legacies that have made South Carolina a special place. The Bank is funded by a portion of the State Documentary Stamp funds. Since its original funding in 2004 the Conservation Bank has conserved over 134,000 acres of land in South Carolina.

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