A conservation group says it has guaranteed the preservation of more than 9,000 acres surrounding the grave of the man who is perhaps South Carolina’s most famous Revolutionary War hero.
The Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust announced last week it has closed on a conservation easement for the property surrounding former Colonel Francis Marion’s tomb in Berkeley County. The group still hopes to do the same for two smaller parcels totaling 1,800 acres later this year.
A conservation easement is a payment to a property owner on the condition that their land is not developed in the future for residential or commercial use. While the property is not open to the public, it comes with a guarantee from the owner that it will remain in pristine condition.
The trust said it paid $2.9 million for the Oakland Club property, which was only about 30 percent of its appraised value. It encompasses several historic French Huguenot plantations on the Santee River which were once owned by the Marion family and include his gravesite. The South Carolina Conservation Bank contributed $1.5 million towards the deal.
“Visitors of the historic landmark will forever be able to enjoy the natural vistas of pine forest and native grasses surrounding the site,” the trust said on its website.
Marion famously led a small detachment of American militia and regulars who engaged in guerilla warfare after British troops took control of South Carolina in 1780. He was nicknamed the “Swamp Fox” for his units’ ability to take advantage of difficult terrain in the Pee Dee region and elude British pursuers. He also helped recapture several British forts in the months leading up to the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.