Welcome to Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve, located in Lexington County, SC.
Conservationists know that the Longleaf Pine Forests of the Southern U.S. consist of much more than just its trees.
They are complete ecosystems of plants, animals and natural processes including fire, rain and soil mineralization.
Estimates show that over the last century, longleaf pine ecosystems have dwindled to less than 3 percent.
Once thought to be inexhaustible, these forests were exploited for their lumber and turpentine products.
Today, restoring these habitats to pre-settlement conditions is the goal of The Nature Conservancy,
along with state and federal agencies.
[Interview 1 - Colette Degarady, Conservation Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy, SC Chapter]
We're trying to manage for that healthy Longleaf Pine natural community dynamics by reducing some of the Turkey Oaks, which compete for the nutrients for Longleaf and then we're going to also help bring some of the new plants into the understory by revitalizing the seedbank.
Globally rare, the Rayner's blueberry is found on sandstone outcroppings dominated by longleaf pine.
Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve is one of only 3 known places in SC where this low seed-producing blueberry grows.
The Hunt Branch stream head, a high water table and sandy soil characterize the lansdscape.
[Interview 2 - Colette Degarady, Conservation Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy, SC Chapter]
This is a very unique site of Longleaf Pine growth in the Sandhill region of the state. And the health of Longleaf... it's sustaining here, but it needs management.