The College of Charleston Foundation has received a $140,000 grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (Chicago, IL) to create and execute a strategic, comprehensive forestry management plan for the forests, woodlands, savannahs, meadows, and tidal marshes that comprise Dixie Plantation. The grant will be awarded over the next three years. Upon completion of the forestry management plan, Dixie Plantation will be restored to a renewable forest.

“Restoration of this forest will create approximately 1,500 contiguous acres of protected, environmentally-managed forest in southern Charleston county,” said George Watt, Executive Director of the College of Charleston Foundation. “Dixie Plantation is an integral piece in the conservation of coastal lowlands.”

Dixie Plantation currently encompasses 862 acres bordering the Stono River and the Intracoastal Waterway, about 17 miles south of Charleston. The property is the former home of John Henry Dick, a naturalist and artist who drew and photographed thousands of birds.  Dixie Plantation was donated to the College of Charleston Foundation as part of Dick’s estate. The land comprises a variety of mini-ecosystems, including long-leaf pine habitat, wetlands, marsh, brackish ponds, agricultural lands, and meadows.

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports conservation efforts in the South Carolina Lowcountry. This project embodies the Donnelley Foundation’s mission of preservation, restoration, and protection of strategic lands that contribute to the health of the regional ecosystem.

“We are grateful for the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation’s support,” said Watt. “This grant will further enable the Foundation and the College’s mission to protect and preserve this vital Lowcountry habitat while providing educational benefits at Dixie Plantation for generations to come.”

Completion of the long-term forestry management plan will create a mature maritime forest for wildlife habitation, research, learning, and recreation. The plan supports flora and fauna native to the region, specifically plant restoration that will support the quail and songbird populations. It also calls for significant restoration and regeneration of Longleaf forests, which once dominated the Southeast with over 90 million acres and today is estimated to comprise only two million acres. Having once been densely populated with the magnificent trees, Dixie will once again be home to significant longleaf acreage.  Lastly, the plan will expand access to the property for students, researchers, and visitors for education and enjoyment.

The College of Charleston Foundation is also undertaking additional efforts to preserve and protect the Dixie Plantation property. In December, the Foundation will acquire a parcel of property that is contiguous to Dixie Plantation. The parcel, consisting of 19.2 acres that previously were slated for development, will be acquired for $385,000 from Club of Stono Ferry Real Estate LLC, and will be purchased solely with private funds currently held by the Foundation.

“This acquisition affords the Foundation the ability to buffer Dixie Plantation against the encroachment of residential and commercial development while protecting the environmentally sensitive marshlands from harmful runoff,” says Watt. “The Foundation has been seeking, and will continue to seek, any opportunity to protect Dixie Plantation’s watershed. This transaction demonstrates the Foundation’s commitment to the principles of the long-term plans for Dixie and its enduring role as steward to this vital natural resource.”

The mission of the College of Charleston Foundation is to promote programs of education, research, student development, and faculty development for the exclusive benefit of the College of Charleston.