“I love how diverse the three are, but even though they are different, they are all equally important to us,” said Katie Roth, who is the conservancy's executive director.
The properties won't be open to the public because their owners chose to keep them private.
The acreage in the Horse District is located near the Winthrop Polo Field, which is owned by the conservancy, and the Clark Barn, which is protected by a conservation easement.
There are horse paddocks, but no buildings, on the land that Riviere donated.
“What a privilege, for me, to place a conservation easement upon this property that preserves scenic views in an area important for its cultural and historical context,” Riviere said.
The largest of the newly protected properties is a 278-acre tract that a Ridge Spring landowner donated. It has significant frontage on the South Fork of the Edisto River.
“It is mostly woods, and it is an absolutely beautiful piece of land,” Roth said. “There are a lot of different migratory birds that pass through there.”
The Edisto is the longest free-flowing black water river in North America.
The third newly protected property is a 34-acre area at Three Runs Plantation, a residential equestrian community that has more than 30 miles of trails. The plot provides a buffer between the Lower Border Trail and the Savannah River Site. It also provides a buffer for Three Runs Creek, which is a tributary of Cedar Creek, a major watershed in Aiken County.
The addition of the three pieces of property raised the number of acres protected from development in Three Runs Plantation to 175.
“All the land we have there (under conservation easements) is all on or right next to Three Runs Plantation's trail system,” Roth said. “That makes a difference to the people who live there, because now they know those trails are always going to be there. They use them (the trails) all the time for riding horses and walking.”
Founded in 1991 and formerly known as the Aiken County Open Land Trust, the conservancy has preserved more than 2,000 acres of land. The organization owns nearly 600 acres of that property, according to its website.
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. Article originally posted Tuesday, April 1, 2014 6:11 p.m.