In an effort to protect important properties from development, including “the most critical land that maintains [the area’s] sense of place,” Beaufort County, South Carolina, voters established the Rural and Critical Lands Program. Since 2000, they’ve voted six times, including most recently in 2022, to maintain this important source of funding, resulting in $260 million for conservation.
Trust for Public Land helped identify properties for protection, creating “Greenprint” maps that use Geographic Information System technology to pinpoint where the conservation dollars would have the greatest impact. Trust for Public Land undertook feasibility research, commissioned polls, helped write ballot language, and coordinated ballot measure campaigns.
Trust for Public Land helped make the Rural and Critical Lands program a national model for conservation finance at the county level. The program underscores the importance of public education, both before and after voters go to the polls. For example, visitors to protected properties might see signs explaining that the view before them was preserved through the Rural and Critical Lands Program. Beaufort County has completed 121 land protection projects, conserving over 28,537 acres while leveraging tens of millions federal, state, and private dollars.