A small piece of a sprawling Berkeley County private hunting club could generate a financial benefit to an owner of heirs' property looking to earn income from better forestry practices.
The Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust recently donated 23 acres of the 11,187-acre Oakland Club in Pineville to the Center for Heirs' Property Preservation in Charleston.
The trust secured a conservation easement on most of the historic hunting club in 2017 to protect the rural land between Lake Moultrie and the Santee River from the encroaching development spilling out of metro Charleston into lower Berkeley County.
The donated parcel, just off S.C. Highway 45 near Pineville Community Center and not far from Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion's gravesite, will be used as a demonstration forest.
It's meant to educate landowners, especially those with heirs property, on the best practices to reap the greatest financial return on forestland.
"This property will give us the opportunity to demonstrate to our landowners the benefits of implementing forestry practices that will grow their working landscapes, while generating income for their families," said Jennie Stephens, executive director of the Center for Heirs' Property Preservation.
She said forestry is a $21 billion industry in South Carolina and historically underserved landowners can now participate in the economic benefits of tree farming.
Foresters for the heirs center are currently assessing the site to develop a management plan that includes restocking pine timber on the uplands, creating fire breaks, reintroducing controlled burning and developing wildlife food plots.
The site is bound by a conservation easement that prohibits industrial and commercial development and greatly limits residential uses. The entire hunting club is about the size of peninsular Charleston, Daniel Island and old Mount Pleasant combined.
The Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust welcomed the heirs center's plans to make the small parcel a demonstration forest.
"They help so many landowners recognize the value of their properties through sustainable forestry," said Raleigh West, Lord Berkeley's executive director. "I hope this property enhances their education programs by providing them a chance to teach those practices on the ground."