The Nature Conservancy announced last week it is buying 955 acres in northern Greenville County to help add more space to a popular state park.
The group’s Upstate Conservation Director Kristen Austin told South Carolina Radio Network that the land known as the “Gap Creek” property will be become part of Jones Gap State Park. “Its got headwater streams that flow through it. Its got incredible forests throughout,” she said.
Gap Creek has been a high conservation priority for decades because of its size, connection to other protected lands and unique natural features. The property is home to healthy, contiguous hardwood forests that provide habitat for animals such as black bear, migratory songbirds and even bats. Headwater streams and a series of cascades on the property support cold-water fish, salamanders and frogs before eventually making their way to Saluda Lake, a recreational lake that also provides drinking water for the town of Easley.
The addition will increase the size of the park by nearly 25 percent. “It’s a real win for conservation and for the people of South Carolina,” Austin said. “There is a lot of South Carolina natural heritage tied to this property that will be part of Jones Gap State Park.”
Gap Creek was purchased for $3.7 million. The Conservancy has a loan for the property and is continuing to fundraise for the remaining $500,000.
The Conservancy previously added 300 acres to Jones Gap State Park in 2012, following a three-year private fundraising effort that was supported by more than 400 citizens.