In 1992 Lindsay Pettus had a vision of a way to protect significant natural and cultural areas in Lancaster County where he was born and raised. Gathering friends and fellow conservationists Paul Gettys, Mark Grier, Jimmy White IV and Ralph Garris, the Katawba Valley Land Trust was founded in March of 1992. This group of friends became the first board of directors with Lindsay Pettus as President.
The seeds of this new land trust were rooted in the work of the Catawba River Task Force in the early 1990s, on which Lindsay served along with Murray White of Fort Mill. This group published the Catawba River Corridor Plan which recommended protecting buffers along the river and its tributaries. Lindsay and Murray became co-chairs of the Implementation Committee for the river management plan which was a key motivation in the creation of both KVLT and the Nation Ford Land Trust (NFLT), founded by Murray White. KVLT’s original service area focused on Lancaster and Chester counties, while the NFLT focused on York County.
The first property protected by KVLT was a 1.1 acre tract on the Catawba River across from Landsford Canal State Park. This property, acquired in 1995, contained a mobile home visible from the state park. Lindsay felt this property was extremely important to restore this significant historical viewshed at Landsford. The property was acquired, the mobile home removed and the viewshed was restored.
Since this small but significant beginning, and working as an all-volunteer group for most of its 25-year history, the land trust has protected over 9200 acres in five South Carolina counties. Of these protected properties, 37 conservation easements protect over 5400 acres, which include easements protecting the important Battle of Camden site in Kershaw County and the Hanging Rock Battlefield. The land trust owns over 1000 acres, with over 350 acres along the creeks in the city of Lancaster protecting important floodplain areas along the creeks. We are now working to develop a greenway along the Gills Creek property. KVLT has also partnered with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to purchase almost 2800 acres along the Catawba River which increased the size of Landsford Canal State Park, and over 1500 acres on Stumpy Pond near Great Falls. These properties were transferred to these two state agencies. Areas of emphasis for KVLT’s conservation efforts have included buffers along the Catawba River and its tributaries, the Landsford Canal and Forty Acre Rock areas, and the Great Falls area.
KVLT has also promoted environmental education efforts throughout its 25-year history by publishing books such as Spider Lilies, publishing prints and photographs, and leading numerous hikes and bird counts and its successful speaker series.
The land trust has much to celebrate and much to be proud of in its 25 years. To celebrate the anniversary, KVLT will host an active slate of hikes and outings and a speaker series. Look for information on these events in our newsletters and on this website.
Lindsay Pettus states, “I am proud of the conservation work over the past 25 years accomplished by board members, friends and volunteers. However, much is left to be done if we are to protect important watersheds like Flat Creek and the lands along the Catawba River. We are also looking forward to the completion of the greenway. Conservation is more important now than ever and the land trust is committed to protecting critical natural and cultural resources for the next 25 years and beyond.