A new audit into the South Carolina agency that sets aside grants for the conservation of land criticizes that agency for committing future funds it is not guaranteed to receive and for not ensuring the land it preserves with state funds can be visited by the public.
The South Carolina Conservation Bank says it has helped secure $276 million towards land protection efforts since its creation 15 years ago, through the use of grants and matching funds. The bank will sometimes help fund efforts to purchase land for conservation efforts or will finance conservation easements on property owners with the condition that the property not be developed.
However, the bank’s operating laws will require it to shut down in June 2018 if the legislature does not reauthorize it before then. Lawmakers are working to reauthorize this spring, but expect a fight from opponents who believe the bank has expanded beyond its original purpose. [Read more…]