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How we protect our planet, one acre at a time

April 22, 2019 by Abigail Darlington


On Earth Day, we want to highlight one of our lesser-known funds that has helped protect tens of thousands of acres of open space in our region.

The Lowcountry Conservation Loan Fund was started in 2002 by the Merck Family Fund and the Donnelly Foundation with an initial $1 million investment. It was established as a revolving loan fund for organizations to tap into when they need bridge financing to close land deals for conservation, which is critical in such a competitive real estate market.

For example, when the Angel Oak property was at risk of being developed, the groups working to conserve it were able to close on the purchase and place it in an easement using funds from the Conservation Loan Fund.

Since its inception, nearly $6.5 million has been loaned to 18 conservation projects and organizations such as the Open Space Institute, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and The Nature Conservancy. To date, nearly 20,000 acres of Lowcountry lands have been conserved – which otherwise would have a market value of nearly $40 million.

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