Land conservancy plans to increase its future efforts

Seated:Paul Rideout, (L) president of Aiken Land Conservancy and Brian Sanders, assistant county administrator sign an agreement between Aiken County and ALC, concerning Boyd Pond Park. Guest speaker Charles Lane (L) and fomer ALC president Harry Shealy look on.

The Aiken Land Conservancy celebrated the organization's recent accomplishments and discussed ways to increase the group's conservation efforts in the future during its annual meeting Sunday. Among the group's highlights last year, was its partnership with Aiken County to purchase Boyd Pond Park, formerly the ORA site, according to Dacre Stoker, executive director of ALC. The Conservancy purchased the property with funds from a grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank. A portion of the property will be leased to the County for passive recreation and the rest of the land is protected under a conservation easement and will never be developed. "The beauty of this is that you have active recreation on one side, but because the Conservancy is involved, a lot of (the land) will be conserved forever," said Brian Sanders, the assistant County administrator for Aiken County. Stoker also talked about the group's plans to help clean up and restore vegetation in Carolina Bay. Guest speaker Charles Lane offered some insight to the group on ways to further its efforts by discussing his background with conservation. Formerly the chairman of the South Carolina Conservation Bank Board, Lane was recognized as a Hero of Conservation finalist last year by Field and Stream magazine. Lane helped to form the ACE Basin Task force in 1989. Since it was established, the project is responsible for having protected 172,000 acres of land that faced the threat of being developed in the Low Country. He said land conservation is being practiced more now than ever in the state. Over the last couple of years, 700,000 acres of land have been protected in South Carolina, according to Lane. Last year, the state ranked fifth in the nation in terms of the number of acres that are being preserved, he said. The Aiken Land Conservancy has begun drafting a five-year strategic plan which will address future land acquisition, land stewardship, membership and funding development and administrative operations. Last fall, the organization revamped its image with a new name and logo to fit with its renewed efforts with local conservation. ALC operates under the mission of preserving natural and historic resources through land conservation.