When we speak of the Ashley River, images of the historic plantations, Middleton and Drayton Hall may come to mind; or perhaps the wide tidal river that flows boldly along the peninsula of Charleston into Charleston Harbor; but to truly know a river is to understand its beginnings. The Ashley River begins miles from the Harbor in rural Berkeley County, just outside the rural community of Cross. It meanders through the Cypress and Wassamassaw Swamps until all of its tributaries come together in unison outside of Summerville.
The headwaters of the Ashley provide an incredible service to the thousands of residents downstream. The bottomland hardwood forests allow the river to expand during times of peak flow and contract during a drought. They slow the flow of water allowing sediment to deposit along the way, resulting in clean water downstream. What happens to these forests upstream has a direct impact on the river downstream, which is why the Ashley River headwaters are an important focus area for Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust.
We’re honored to share that we worked with Weyerhaeuser to secure a conservation easement on nearly 2,400 acres in the Ashley River headwaters near Cross. The Big Run Mitigation Site has been managed for much of the last century for commercial pine production. Weyerhaeuser proposes to restore the natural hydrology of the site through the removal of commercial pine plantations, and the reconnection of the streams found on site with their historical channels. The Big Run Mitigation Site contains approximately six miles of braided streams which come together to form Big Run Creek. Big Run Creek, along with Black Creek and Mill Branch Creek, form the Ashley River.
While this conservation easement protects significant acreage, our work in the Ashley River headwaters is far from complete. The Ashley River Watershed incorporates nearly 900 square miles and is under tremendous development pressure. Your gift to Lord Berkeley ensures that we have the capacity to respond to the urgent needs of the region. Please consider making a contribution to support this critical work.