The Nature Conservancy protects sensitive environmental areas and preserves natural habitats around the world. There are several protected tracts of land in the state of South Carolina. Not all of these managed areas are open to the public; however, there are three preserves in diverse regions of the state that the public can access. Black River Preserve, Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve, and Nine Time Preserve are popular areas for wildlife viewing and other outdoor activities.
Black River Preserve covers a 1,736-acre tract in the Low Country near Georgetown. This area near the coast is one of the best canoe and kayak destinations in the state. The Black River flows through floodplain forest and towering cypress trees. The area is popular with fishermen and bird watchers. Birds that have been sighted in the preserve include wood ducks, pileated woodpeckers, and prothonotary warblers. The Black River Preserve is an important breeding ground for swallow-tailed kites, an endangered black and white colored raptor. Access to the preserve is off Hwy 41 near the town of Andrews.
A smaller preserve that is open to the public is the 460-acre Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve in the Sandhills region. The preserve is named for an unusual sandstone formation that resembles an upside down pyramid. The formation’s lower layers have eroded at a faster rate than the upper layers, giving it a rather precarious appearance. Climbing on Peachtree Rock is not permitted. In addition to Peachtree Rock, there is a small waterfall to be seen on the property. Visitors may hike a.5 mile and a 1.5 mile trail through the preserve. Diverse plant communities are found on the preserve, and a variety of birds may be observed. The property was formerly a research site of the University of South Carolina Biology Department. Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve is located a few miles southwest of Columbia, near the town of Edward.
Nine Time Preserve is a beautiful 560-acre tract in the Upstate region near the town of Pickens. The preserve is located where the Blue Ridge Mountains meet the Piedmont. The property borders Nine Time Creek on one side, and contains unique rock outcroppings and five mountains. This is a biologically significant property of plant communities and wildlife habitats. More than 100 species of wild flowers have been documented on the preserve. A new 1.7 mile hiking trail is popular with bird watchers, who may observe a variety of warblers, tanagers, vireos, indigo buntings, and Eastern towhees. This mountainous area is also home to black bears. The preserve parking area is located off E Preston McDaniel Road.