It’s taken years but a 1,600-acre tract of land in Pickens County now belongs to the people of South Carolina.
Conservationists said they purchased the Nine Times Forest off S.C. Highway 11 in the mountains of northern Pickens County late last month. The property below the popular Jocasee Gorges area contains three mountains of stunning granite outcroppings, as well as streams, creeks and stands of hardwoods.
The Naturaland Trust and Upstate Forever patched together over $3.5 million to purchase the property from previous owner Crescent Communities, with a $1.5 milllion state Conservation Bank grant and a $1 million contribution from Duke Energy as part of its relicensing agreement. The organizations hope to combine the land with an adjacent 560-acre property to create a public preserve that an eventually be used for fishing, hiking, and hunting.
President of the Naturaland Trust Frank Holleman said the property is “one of the largest contiguous pieces of unprotected forest properties remaining in the Upstate.”
“Beautiful headwaters of trout streams, habitat for black bear, the peregrine falcons hunt, gorgeous wildflowers, and it’s all open to the public,” he said.
Prior to the deal, Crescent would lease the land to hunters who paid to use the property.
Sheree Bernardi contributed to this report