Annual county payouts are underway from the South Carolina Forestry Commission to councils or school boards in eleven South Carolina counties which have Forestry Commission land. According to Scott Hawkins, Public Information Director, the South Carolina Forestry Commission has a long history of returning land revenue to local institutions. Currently, state law mandates these funds be used for education.
Hawkins proudly says, “It’s a very big industry in the state, and it can make you money. Our lands are self-supporting in this agency to the extent that we are able to give 25 percent of that forest products revenue back to the local school.”
Forestry and timber-related businesses reflect the number-one manufacturing industry in South Carolina, supporting 44,708 jobs and impacting the state’s economy by $17 billion every year.
The state forests are highly managed by professional foresters and self-supporting through timber harvests, pine straw sales, and recreation/usage fees.
According to Hawkins, “The rest of the money goes into the agency to run the agency and to pay the salaries. most of it goes into salary and equipment. Running a state forest, as you can imagine, is an expensive venture. It requires biologist on hand and foresters, and forest technicians. –all sorts of personnel to keep these facilities up and running. Because they’re also available to the public for various kinds of recreation.”
Chesterfield County Council will receive a check for $414,392.44 on October 12. This represents the SCFC’s largest county payout. These funds reflect a quarter of the revenue generated by Sand Hills State Forest which is 46,000 acres and located mostly in Chesterfield County.
Other payouts of note include Sumter County, where schools received $358,621.06 from revenue generated by Manchester State Forest (25,000 acres). Williamsburg County received $65,677.05, reflecting 25 percent of the revenue generated by Wee Tee State Forest (12,439 acres).
Now …still think money doesn’t grow on trees?