A new public hunting preserve is now open in western Laurens County. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources purchased the 509-acre property from a Greenville dentist last fall for $1.3 million.
DNR wildlife biologist Gerald Moore says the new Cliff Pitts Wildlife Management Area is located in an area of the state with few hunting options. “If someone is in a hunt club or knows a landowner that’s willing to let them go hunting, that’s great,” he told South Carolina Radio Network, “But, if you don’t have those kinds of contacts, then there was really no public land other than on the other side of the county.”
The new property is located about five miles northeast of the town of Ware Shoals and borders the Reedy River near the intersection of SC 252 and Armstrong Road. It was once used for timber harvesting before the dentist bought it a few years ago. DNR purchased it with money from the 1996 Reedy River Mitigation Settlement Fund, which the state reached with Colonial Pipeline Company over an oil spill in the river.
The purchase was organized by Laurens County legislative delegation, led by Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens). Pitts said the deal is part of a longer-term plan to preserve the Reedy River area. “South Carolina’s not a very large state and as we rapidly develop, especially in the Upstate, the opportunity for people to actually take a kid and see nature first-hand is getting smaller and smaller,” he said.
Pitts said he requested that DNR name the site after his grandfather, whom he said was a mentor to him and many other hunters in the area. “This particular piece of land was where his father taught him to hunt and fish,” Pitt said.
The WMA features pine and mixed hardwood habitat and includes about 20 acres of open land. Much of the open land has been planted with wildlife foods so that a public dove field can be opened next year, DNR officials said. The entire area provides good hunting opportunities for wildlife species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey and small game species, Moore said. Furbearers such as raccoon, fox, bobcat and coyote may also be found on the area.
Although it was set aside for hunting and fishing, Cliff Pitts will also have a canoe access and is open to the public for bird watching, photography, and other activities.