The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is buying 525 acres along the Waccamaw River near Longs, according to public records.
Records show the state agency is purchasing two tracts of land: a 300-acre parcel and a 225-acre piece west of S.C. 9 in Longs.
“I think it’s great,” said Waccamaw Riverkeeper Cara Schildtknecht. “That area experienced a lot of trouble during the flood, and the more natural areas we can preserve, the better it’s going to prevent flooding in the future. Preserving as much of the flood plain as possible is the best move.”
South Carolina DNR spokesman David Lucas said in an email that the agency couldn’t reveal the sale price because it hasn’t closed on the property.
“The purchases are not complete yet and are contractual matters, which are deemed confidential until they are finalized, so I do not have any additional details available at this time,” Lucas said.
The land will be added to the existing Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area.
The preserve includes 5,347 acres stretching along the banks of the Waccamaw River from the North Carolina line down to the Red Bluff area of Horry County, according to DNR. But the preserve is not contiguous, and the land in Longs is adjacent to the existing preserve and will fill in some gaps.
“The area that it runs through is absolutely gorgeous,” Schildtknecht said. “It is so pretty because it’s natural and quiet. If you view it and appreciate it, you’ll want to protect it.”
Activities allowed on the preserve include hunting, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing. Folks kayaking down the river can also camp on the riverbanks within the preserve.
The land buy isn't the only recent conservation effort along the Waccamaw. In May, the City of Conway, the Open Space Institute and the Winyah Rivers Alliance announced the conservation of the 152-acre "Westmoreland Preserve" located southeast of the former Lake Busbee site. The land is scheduled to be added to the existing Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge in the future.
“We’ve been seeing all these stories in the news lately about native species coming into our community, whether it’s alligators or snakes or even coyotes,” Schildtknecht said. “When they don’t have those natural areas to live in, they’ll be pushed into our neighborhoods.”