[audubon-news] More than 900 Acres Added to Audubon's Beidler Forest

  • From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <Audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 17:39:36 -0400

Contact: Norm Brunswig
(843) 462-2150


Pine Tree Conservation Society Joins Audubon South Carolina
and Nature Conservancy in Raising the $1.6 Million Purchase Price

Harleyville, South Carolina, Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - The Nature 
Conservancy has purchased a 909-acre tract in Berkeley and Dorchester counties 
for inclusion in the National Audubon Society's Francis Beidler Forest, a 
Registered National Natural Landmark, it was jointly announced today by the 
Conservancy and Audubon.

The land, which runs along the Edisto River, was sold by Mead Westvaco Corp. 
for $1,650,000 and provides much-needed habitat for South Carolina's forest 
birds.  The site was puchased with funds from several conservation partners and 
a one million dollar grant to Audubon through the North American Wetlands 
Conservation Act (NAWCA).

"Today's annoucement means that more than 900 acres of irreplaceable bird and 
wildlife habitat will be saved for future generations of South Carolinians to 
enjoy," said Audubon President John Flicker.  "Mead Wesvaco has done the right 
thing in selling this land for conservation, and it is a pleasure to be working 
with our friends in this, especially the Nature Conservancy, our original 
partner in the creation of Beidler Forest."

"We are truly fortunate to have the extraordinary number and diversity of 
conservation partners committed to preserving South Carolina's world class 
coastal landscapes," said Michael Prevost, who lead development of the NAWCA 
proposal for the Conservancy.  "The Edisto River is deserving of conservation 
focus, and we are pleased to have been a participant in protecting this 
critical tract as an addition to the Francis Beidler Forest."

"This land, located just downstream from the 11,406 acre Francis Beidler 
Forest, is one of the top three protection priorities for Audubon at this 
site," said Norman Brunswig, Audubon South Carlina Exective Director.  "Today's 
remarkable acquisition adds more invaluable habitat to Beidler for forest 
birds, which are at particular conservation risk due to habitat loss.  Once 
again, we are delighted to be working with the Conservancy."

The initial acquisition establishing Beidler Forest in 1969 was a collaborative 
effort between Audubon and The Nature Conservancy protecting approximately 
3,400 acres.  Named for early 20th century conservationist Francis Beidler, the 
Forest supports some of the densest breeding populations of migratory songbirds 
in the eastern United States.  Audubon has conducted ongoing breeding bird 
inventories here for 25 years, and the data suggest that as many as 1,363 
Prothontary Warbler territories and 227 Swainson's Warbler territories occur in 
Beidler Forest.  The Forest supports high concentrations of other migratory 
birds, including Northern Parula, Hooded Warbler and Wood Thrush, and it has 
been named a globally Important Bird Area.

The Conservancy will sell most of its interest in the property to Audubon, 
resulting in expansion of Beidler Forest to 12,723 acres.  Audubon will 
purchase a majority interest in the tract with the aid of a $1 million grant 
competitively awarded through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act 
(NAWCA).  Additionally, Audubon and The Nature Conservancy each contributed 
$200,000 towards purchase of the tract.   The Pine Tree Conservation Society, a 
group that opften partners with Audubon in the acquisition of priority 
migratory bird habitat, provided the remaining $250,000.

Audubon's contribution was also aided by a $150,000 loan from The Community 
Foundation Serving Coastal South Carolina's new Lowcountry Conservation Loan 
Fund, the first loan from this important new source for habitat conservation 
funding.  The Loan Fund was established earlier this year to provide critical, 
interim financing to conservation organizations for land acquisition.  "We are 
delighted that the fund's initial loan has made a pivotal contribution to such 
an important and collaborative habitat conservation effort", said Loan Fund 
Chairman, Jody Tamsberg.

"The NAWCA grant is particularly significant in that this funding proposal, 
jointly prepared by the Conservancy and Audubon, was considered the highest 
ranking coastal project in the entire country", stated Craig Watson of the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, who administers the NAWCA program.

In addition to The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, and the Pine Tree Conservation 
Society, other NAWCA partners included: Ducks Unlimited, Lowcountry Open Land 
Trust, Mead Westvaco Corporation, Bear Island Club, S.C. Department of Natural 
Resources, U.S. Forest Services and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 
 Each of these partners made substantive contributions toward the protection of 
strategically important tracts in the Edisto River corridor either through 
direct funding or securing or granting conservation easements.

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat 
that supports them.  Our national network of community-based nature centers and 
chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas 
sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages 
and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

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