On May 14, 2012, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley signed into law a five-year extension of the South Carolina Conservation Bank. The Bank’s authorization had been set to expire in 2013, but the new bill extends the Bank through 2018. Since its establishment in 2002, the Bank has helped to preserve nearly 160,000 acres of family farms, wetlands and forest from development. The Bank works both by purchasing land outright from willing landowners and by purchasing conservation easements that allow the traditional use of the land to continue. Through fiscal year 2009, the Bank had spent a little over $80 million statewide, a figure that works out to around $527 per acre of land protected.
The bill extending the Bank, H3083, received strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. H3083 also extended the Bank’s current funding scheme, which relies on a small portion of documentary stamp fees that are required in real estate transactions. Read more reaction to this legislation from local media and from the Nature Conservancy.