Lawmakers Call for Reauthorization of Conservation Bank

Two South Carolina lawmakers announced Wednesday they are introducing legislation to provide for the continued protection of South Carolina natural resources for the next decade.

Gathered with members of The Palmetto Land and Water Legacy Alliance, state Sen. George “Chip” Campsen, R-Charleston, and state Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, said they want to pass a 10-year reauthorization of the South Carolina Conservation Bank.

Created in 2002, the South Carolina Conservation Bank provides conservation easements to land trust partners in South Carolina, to preserve the state’s natural-resource-based economy, safeguard drinking water, and preserve our history and cultural heritage. The goal is to ensure a high quality of life for South Carolinians now and generations to come. To date, it has protected over 280,000 acres of natural areas, forests, farms, historic sites, and waterways across South Carolina.

However, the current legislation expires in 2018.

That is part of the reason The Palmetto Land and Water Legacy Alliance was formed. Its mission is to educate South Carolinians about the work done by the Conservation Bank during the past 14 years, and to ignite support for the new legislation.

Senator Campsen, the author of the original legislation in 2002 as a House member, has introduced a new Senate bill, which calls for another 10 years of funding, and a change in the formula to ensure some money during lean budget years.

“When I introduced the legislation creating the South Carolina Conservation Bank in 2002, there was no state agency whose purpose and funds were directed at preserving our farmlands, waterways, forests, other natural resources and history. If the Bank is not reauthorized, that will be the case again,” he said.

Representative Bannister will introduce a companion bill in the House. He noted that Polls over the years indicate that more than 90 percent of South Carolina citizens support the conservation of our natural resources.

“The Conservation Bank is one of the greatest tools we have for keeping our economy strong while safeguarding our drinking water, protecting our natural resources and preserving our history and heritage. I will do everything in my power to see that it’s reauthorized to the fullest extent during this legislative session,” Bannister said.

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