On January 25, the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Vice-President Representative Brian White introduced legislation (HB 4727) to reauthorize the South Carolina Conservation Bank. The legislation would enable the Conservation Bank to continue with its duties and functions for collaborative conservation efforts in South Carolina, this time without a sunset limitation.
Established in 2002, the South Carolina Conservation Bank mission is “to improve the quality of life in South Carolina through the conservation of significant natural resource lands, wetlands, historical properties, archeological sites, and urban parks.” Beginning in 2000, an effort began to determine what lands in the state were significant and how they could be protected and sustained. It was decided that as development increased, there was a need to conserve and protect open space and waterways as well as provide public access to these natural areas. The Conservation Bank identifies real estate interests from agreeable sellers and encourages critical cooperation and partnerships among landowners, state agencies, municipalities, and non-profit organizations to work together to maximize conservation and improve the quality of life in South Carolina. The initial enabling legislation stipulated that the Bank’s existence would sunset July 1, 2018, unless otherwise renewed.
HB 4727 would remove the sunset limitation, expand the Conservation Bank board, coordinate all state required mitigation, develop conservation criteria and a conservation prioritization map to be approved by the General Assembly, and ensure increased public access. The legislation is currently assigned to the House Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Rep. White, and includes many members of the South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Rep. White noted, “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the conservation community at large to ensure South Carolina remains on the forefront of conservation efforts making this a better utilized and more beautiful South Carolina for all our citizens.”
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?