Funding Case Study: South Carolina

Home to the popular Hilton Head Island Resort, Beaufort County was South Carolina’s fastest-growing county in the 1990s, with a population increase of nearly 40 percent over that decade. In 2000, concerned that growth might overwhelm their coastal county, voters passed a $40 million bond issue to establish the Rural and Critical Lands Program. A citizen advisory board oversees the program, which since 2003 has been spearheaded by TPL and guided by a TPL-created greenprint that highlights lands for protection. To date, the well-received program has protected more than 16,000 acres from development—a diverse mix of natural and historic sites, from large forests, farms, and wetland areas to smaller but nonetheless ecologically or historically significant places. When the program exhausted its first pot of funding in 2006, voters showed their enthusiasm for the program’s results by passing a new $50 million bond by a three-to-one margin.