Car Accident Attorney inSlater, SC

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Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC Fighting
for Your Rights in Slater, SC

When an accident comes without warning, even the most prepared person can fall victim. One moment, you're walking to a restaurant after a long day of work. The next moment, someone else's negligence and carelessness change your life forever. Personal injury victims aren't just the victims of negligence they suffer from pain, concern over family and ability to work. Often, these victims do not have the luxury of worrying about work and family, because they're clinging to life in an ER. Without a personal injury attorney in Slater, SC, by their side, they mistakenly provide official statements to insurance agencies and accept settlement offers that only account for a fraction of what they have lost.

If you have recently been hurt in an accident, you may be asking questions like:

  • "What happens now?"
  • "How will I pay for my hospital bills?"
  • "Will I get fired from my job?"
  • "Will I be able to function independently ever again?"

With more than 100,000 car accidents in South Carolina every year, we hear these questions every day. Our hearts hurt for those who are suffering due to no fault of their own. Accident victims are not only left with questions like those above; they're also forced to deal with costs associated with medical bills, car repair, follow-up appointments, and loss of income.

While reading these facts can be bleak, there is a silver lining. South Carolina law dictates that those who are found responsible for your pain and suffering may be obligated to pay for your expenses. Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC exists for that exact reason to make sure that negligent parties are held accountable. We fight on your behalf to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. We aren't afraid to go toe-to-toe with greedy insurance agencies who do not have your best interests at heart.

Our overarching goal is to protect your rights, and our law firm is uniquely positioned to do so, with attorney Michael Dill‘s vast experience in the auto insurance industry.

Personal Injury Attorney Slater, SC
Service Areas

We offer comprehensive vehicle representation for a number of different automobile accidents, including:

  • Distracted Driving
  • Drunk Driving
  • Rollovers
  • Multi-Vehicle Accidents
  • Automobile Defects
  • Roadway Defects
  • Speeding
  • Reckless Driving
  • Uninsured Motorists or
    Underinsured Drivers
  • Rear-End Collisions
  • Car Rental Accidents
  • RV Accidents

If you know you have been involved in one of the car accidents above, the time to seek experienced representation is now. Generally, car accident victims have three years from the date of their injuries to file a personal injury claim in Slater. That time frame can be reduced in certain circumstances. When a wrongful death is involved, surviving family members must take action in a similar time frame.

The bottom line is that speed is of the essence in these cases. When we sit down with you to learn more about your accident, we will help you understand South Carolina law so that you are fully informed before taking legal action. The sooner we can dig into the details of your case, the sooner we can fight for your rights.

We Recover Compensation
When You Need It Most

The law states that personal injury victims are entitled to compensation for the full extent of their injuries. Why? Because the primary goal of injury compensation in Slater, SC, is to help the victim return to the state they would have been in, if the accident never occurred. In the literal sense, doing so isn't possible. The law cannot reverse the incredible suffering and pain that accompanies a severe injury. As such, personal injury victims are entitled to receive a financial reward that equals those damages.

How much compensation you get depends on the facts and nuances of your case. With that said, you may be able to recover compensation for the following needs:

  • Rehab-Related Expenses like
    Physical Therapy
  • All Medical Expenses
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Long-Term Disability
  • Lost Wages and Loss of
    Future Income Earning Ability
  • Disfigurement
  • Emotional Distress
  • Mental Anguish

If you or someone you love was recently injured in a car wreck, contact our office today to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Slater, SC. The sooner you call, the sooner we can begin fighting for your rights and the compensation you need.

 Personal Injury Lawyer Slater, SC The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference

What Our Clients Say

The Role of Negligence in Your
Slater Personal Injury Case

If there were one common truth that we can count on, it's that life is unpredictable. Sometimes, accidents just happen. However, when recklessness and negligence come into play in situations where accidents cause personal injuries, the negligent party can be held responsible under South Carolina law. For victims to have a chance at compensation, the party responsible for the accident must be proven to be negligent. When a party or parties are negligent, they fail to take appropriate care when performing an action, like driving an automobile.

 Car Accident Attorney Slater, SC
At Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC, our team works to prove negligence
for our clients by proving:
  • The defendant had an obligation to look out for your safety.
  • The defendant did not uphold that duty.
  • There was causation between the defendant's breach of duty and the injuries you sustained.
  • You suffered real damages.

After an accident occurs, it is critical to take certain steps to help prove the responsible party's negligence and maximize the compensation you rightly deserve.

Steps to Maximize Compensation
After an Accident in Slater, SC

All too often, car wreck victims don't get the compensation they need because they failed to take the proper steps after their accident. Don't let this be you. By having comprehensive records of your car accident and its aftermath, you have a much better chance of protecting your rights and maximizing compensation for your bills and injuries. If you have been injured in an automobile accident in Slater, follow these steps before doing anything else:


Go to a Doctor

First and foremost, seek medical attention for any injuries that you have sustained. You might not realize it now, but your injuries may be more complex and serious than you think. Damage like head trauma and back injuries are not easy to diagnose on your own and sometimes take time to surface. A full medical examination will help reveal the extent of your injuries, lead to a quicker recovery, and help document the injuries you sustained. This last part is essential to prove the significance of your injuries.

 Law Firm Slater, SC

File an
Accident Report

The second step you should take is to report your injuries to the correct authorities. The authorities change depending on the circumstances of your accident. If you were involved in a car wreck in Slater, you should file your report with the highway authorities and any associated insurance agencies. Regardless of where you were injured and how the wreck occurred, the biggest takeaway here is to file a report. That way, you have an established, official record of the incident that can be referred to down the line.

Personal Injury Attorney Slater, SC

Preserve Evidence
if Possible

Personal injury cases in Slater are won with evidence. It might sound like the job of the police, but it's important that you try to secure any evidence that you can collect relating to your accident, especially if you are injured. Evidence in auto accident cases tends to disappear quickly. By preserving evidence soon after the accident, it can be used in court. For example, if you cannot get a witness statement immediately after your wreck, their testimony may come across as less reliable. Completing this task on your own can be quite difficult, especially after a serious accident. That's why it's so crucial to complete the last step below.

 Personal Injury Lawyer Slater, SC

Contact a Lawyer

One of the most intelligent, important steps you can take after a car accident is calling a personal injury attorney in Slater, SC. At Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC, we will assist you with every step of your personal injury case to ensure that your rights are protected. That includes gathering all types of evidence relevant to your case. When we investigate your accident, we will determine the person who is liable for your losses. If there are multiple liable parties, we will hold each one accountable for their negligence.

Every personal injury case is different, which is why experience counts when it comes to car accident compensation. Our track record speaks for itself, but no number of past results will guarantee a perfect outcome. What we can guarantee, however, is our undivided attention and fierce dedication to your case, no matter the circumstances. Unlike other personal injury law firms in Slater, you can have peace of mind knowing your best interests always come first at Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC.

 Car Accident Attorney Slater, SC

Common Car Accidents in
Slater, SC

At Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC, we have years of experience handling some of Slater's most complicated car accident cases. Some of the most common cases that come across our desks include:

Drunk Driving Accidents

Drunk driving is a major problem in the Lowcountry. Drunk drivers are incredibly irresponsible and regularly cause fatal accidents because they drive physically and mentally impaired by alcohol. Drunk drivers have slower reaction times, delayed reflexes, and impaired vision, making them unfit to operate a motor vehicle. In auto wrecks, drunk drivers often come away with minor injuries compared to their victims, which is a bitter pill to swallow

Individuals who make a choice to drive drunk cause accidents by weaving in and out of traffic, going over the speed limit, failing to see pedestrians, and ignoring traffic laws. They may run cars off the road, rear-end vehicles, hit them head-on, or even cause a vehicle to roll over.

Drunk driving accidents in Slater care result in horrible injuries, such as:

  • Burns
  • Broken Bones
  • Head Injuries
  • Brain Trauma
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Mental Anguish

If you are injured or have lost a family member due to an impaired or drunk driver, our team of personal injury lawyers in Slater can help. We have extensive experience with car accident cases and can explain your rights in simple, plain terms. It is important to know that you can file a personal injury suit regardless of the criminal case outcome against the drunk driver.

 Law Firm Slater, SC

Rental and RV Accidents

When accidents happen in RVs or rental cars, people are often unsure of their rights. This confusion is understandable since there are additional insurance and legal issues that must be accounted for in these cases.

Fortunately, the lawyers at Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC, have the experience to help you with complex car accident and RV cases. Attorney Michael Dill worked in the auto insurance industry before becoming an attorney. He also has an undergraduate degree that includes a focus on risk management and insurance. When it comes to rental and RV accidents, we review each client's case with a fine-tooth comb. Once we understand your accident, our team will explain your rights and options in easy-to-understand terms.

If you were involved in an accident while driving an RV or a rental vehicle, you may find that your auto insurance company, the rental car's insurance company, and the other party's insurance carrier will try to deny your claim. Situations like these call for a bold, experienced personal injury attorney in Slater, SC, who isn't afraid of large corporations and insurance groups. We have extensive experience with insurance companies and know how to interpret policies. As your advocate, we will ensure that you receive the coverage and compensation you are entitled to, even if an insurance company says you aren't.

We can help you seek compensation in cases that involve:

  • Injuries from Boating Ac
  • Rental Cars Injuries
  • RV Accidents
  • Jet Ski Injuries
  • Golf Cart Injuries
  • Rental cars
  • Boat accidents
  • ATV Accidents

Victims of RV and rental car accidents (as well as their families) may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income or benefits. Our personal injury lawyers work with life-care planners, medical experts, and economists to determine the amount of compensation you will need.

Personal Injury Attorney Slater, SC

Texting While Driving and
Distracted Driving Accidents

We live in a time where just about everyone has their eyes glued to their phones. Often, this happens in situations where the person needs to be paying attention, like when they're driving an automobile. Taking a few moments to glance down at your phone can cause irreparable damage to other drivers. That is why texting while driving is illegal in Slater. Typically, this crime is met with a minor traffic violation. However, when a distracted driver injures another motorist, you can seek compensation through a legal suit. If you have been injured in such a situation, our team can help you hold the negligent driver accountable for your losses and damages.

Texting takes drivers' minds and eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel. Because they are not paying attention to their driving,

They miss crucial road signs and information such as:

  • Changes in the Flow
    of Traffic
  • Traffic Lights
  • Traffic Signs
  • Work Zones
  • Bicyclists
  • Lane Changes
  • Incapacitate Cars and

At Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC, we represent injury victims in Slater who are involved in all types of car accidents, including distracted driving. We work with vigor to recover the full amount of compensation you and your family will need to recover. You can rely on our attorneys for dedicated, representation throughout your case. Unlike some distracted driving lawyers in Slater, we will assist you with all aspects of your accident, including access to good medical care if needed.

 Personal Injury Lawyer Slater, SC

Unflinching Legal Advocacy. Compassionate Care

At Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC, we are proud of our commitment to our clients. We pledge to provide them with the highest quality legal representation in Slater and treat them with respect, empathy, and compassion. If you are suffering from the results of a dangerous car accident, know we are here to assist.

We will help you seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and additional losses. Surviving family members may also recover funeral expenses and compensation for the personal loss of a loved one, including the deceased's future income and benefits. When you or your family's health and financial security are on the line, trust the best choose Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC.


Latest News in Slater, SC

Community pushing for Slater-Marietta High School to return to north Greenville Co.

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A major push is underway to bring a high school back to north Greenville County.Slater-Marietta High School closed in the 1970’s, forcing students to travel miles to the next closest public high school.People in this community told 7NEWS, that they were promised another one would be back but it’s not and they want that to change.The yearbooks for Slater-Marietta High School hold a lot of memories. Especially for people in the community like Vanessa McFarland’s fami...

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A major push is underway to bring a high school back to north Greenville County.

Slater-Marietta High School closed in the 1970’s, forcing students to travel miles to the next closest public high school.

People in this community told 7NEWS, that they were promised another one would be back but it’s not and they want that to change.

The yearbooks for Slater-Marietta High School hold a lot of memories. Especially for people in the community like Vanessa McFarland’s family.

“My mother went to Slater-Marietta High School along with many people I live around. I went to elementary school here, my brother and I,” Vanessa McFarland told us.

McFarland add even her own kids went there.

But it wasn’t always an elementary school. It was a high school. In fact, the only option for north Greenville County residents.

“We want to give the rural people good education because it’s going to keep the rural areas, rural,” said Gina Norris Hinton, President of the Slater-Marietta Community Association.

But Gina Norris Hinton with the Slater-Marietta Community Association said it closed in the early 1970’s, as students merged with Travelers Rest High School.

“For some, it’s almost an hour drive. Our lines go all the way up to the North Carolina lines,” Norris Hinton explained.

On top of some high school students and their families now having to drive miles to school, Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill said the population there is growing. He believes now is the time for a high school to open again to keep up with the demand.

“New housing, new subdivisions from Travelers Rest all the way to the North Carolina line. This is creating a situation where the school district is going to need to do some kind of long-range plan, as to how they’re going to address all the long-term growth,” said Greenville County Councilman, Joe Dill.

McFarland agrees. Her family knows that high school commute all too well.

“It takes us 30 minutes to get to school and back. I rode the school bus when I was in school, it was a two hour ride in the morning and a two hour ride in the afternoon,” McFarland told 7NEWS.

Plus, she loves where she lives and hopes one day, her family can once again call themselves, Slater-Marietta High School alumni.

“I’ve been here 44 years. I don’t have plans on leaving, I hope my kids stick around,” said McFarland.

School board members with the Greenville County School District have said they will take these concerns into consideration. Councilman Joe Dill said what’s next in all of this is waiting for the district to come back with their long-range facilities plan.

TNC and OSI Expand Coosawhatchie River Conservation Efforts

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Open Space Institute (OSI) announced a joint, two-phase effort to permanently protect more than 7,300 acres in Coastal South Carolina’s Hampton and Jasper counties. The protection of the property, known locally as “Buckfield,” will link ecologically significant landscapes, creating a 12,000-acre stretch of protected land in this fast-growing region, and make way...

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Open Space Institute (OSI) announced a joint, two-phase effort to permanently protect more than 7,300 acres in Coastal South Carolina’s Hampton and Jasper counties. The protection of the property, known locally as “Buckfield,” will link ecologically significant landscapes, creating a 12,000-acre stretch of protected land in this fast-growing region, and make way for publicly accessible recreation land in the near future.

On June 30, TNC acquired 3,654 acres, marking a bold first step in the permanent protection of Buckfield.

“Buckfield’s enormous size, extensive river frontage and healthy longleaf pine forests have long made it a property of interest for conservation in county comprehensive plans and by the conservation community,” says Dale Threatt-Taylor, TNC's executive director in South Carolina. “We’re thrilled to be joining OSI in this significant conservation achievement and to be opening these lands to the people of South Carolina in the near future.”

OSI intends to acquire the remaining 3,672 acres later this year. The entire Buckfield property (parts I and II), along with the adjacent 5,000-acre Slater property secured by OSI last year, is expected to be transferred to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to become an approximately 12,000-acre WMA. The land will be open for public access.

“The conservation of Buckfield in this vulnerable region is a momentous achievement on its own. When combined with Slater, these 12,000 acres offer largescale connectivity and limitless public recreation opportunities,” said Nate Berry, OSI’s senior vice president. “This is an unparalleled triumph for the people and wildlife of this region."

Buckfield is an ecological treasure with upland longleaf pine forests providing habitat for rare gopher tortoise populations, 36 miles of river frontage on the Coosawhatchie River and Tulifinny River, and many braided streams. This immense watershed drains into the Port Royal Sound, providing clean, abundant water for citizens downstream and replenishing the estuaries on which recreational and commercial fisheries depend.

Additionally, the property, along with adjoining protected properties, creates a “nature bridge” of undeveloped land that spans from the 300,000-acre Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Rivers Basin to the 450,000-acre South Lowcountry-Savannah River (SOLO).

Until recently, the area between the ACE Basin and the SOLO—where Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper counties intersect—had few protected properties and almost no publicly accessible land. It also faces development pressure from the rapidly growing communities of Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head, located less than 20 miles away.

“Buckfield is a huge success and helps fulfill Jasper County’s community vision for the protection of land for public recreation, water quality and economic development," commented Andy Fulghum, Jasper County administrator. “We applaud TNC and OSI for partnering to get this deal done and look forward to working together on future conservation victories.”

In 2021, OSI purchased three properties, known as the Slater assemblage, totaling slightly more than 5,000 acres, in the heart of this unprotected region. The Slater project kickstarted the acquisition of adjacent Buckfield.

Open Space Institute acquires 3,800 acres for conservation in Jasper County

As development continues throughout the Lowcountry, an organization recently announced its $16 million purchase of land in Jasper County to be protected for public use.The Open Space Institute said it closed May 20 on the 3,800-acre Slater tract in northern Jasper County. The purchase makes it "one of the largest conservation investments in state history," according to the institute.The institute said it plans to transfer the property to the South Carolina Department of Resources as funding becomes avai...

As development continues throughout the Lowcountry, an organization recently announced its $16 million purchase of land in Jasper County to be protected for public use.

The Open Space Institute said it closed May 20 on the 3,800-acre Slater tract in northern Jasper County. The purchase makes it "one of the largest conservation investments in state history," according to the institute.

The institute said it plans to transfer the property to the South Carolina Department of Resources as funding becomes available.

"The purchase and use of the property as a wildlife management area accomplishes goals identified in the county’s 2018 comprehensive plan as well as the county’s Natural Resources Conservation Plan of 2007, which specifically recognized the Slater tract as a primary longleaf pine protection area," Jasper County administrator Andy Fulghum said.

Fulghum said the land will be protected and programmed for use by residents and visitors. It encompasses 3,800 acres of mature upland pinelands, bottomland forests and cypress/tupelo swamps, a news release said.

Eleven miles of the Coosawhatchie River and its tributaries are within the borders of the property, OSI said, and the swamp and upland forests "mitigate downstream flooding and to sustain water quality in Port Royal Sound."

“The Slater property fully incorporates every characteristic that justifies land protection in South Carolina,” OSI senior vice president and Southeast Office director Nate Berry said in the release.

Berry said the tract "expands public access in an area where public lands are relatively scarce; it protects water quality and fisheries in the Port Royal Sound estuary and the Broad River; it secures habitat that is essential for hundreds of varieties of plants and animals, and it helps mitigate climate change by storing hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon.”

The release said the closest public property is a 40-minute drive for most Jasper County residents. It said the Slater tract will provide opportunities for fishing, hunting and other recreation.

"The property will be quickly designated as a heritage preserve and wildlife management area by the state, making it perpetually available for public enjoyment for hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, and significant public educational opportunities to include academic research and local school outdoor lab opportunities," Fulghum said.

The tract "is the anchor property for a larger initiative in this region to permanently protect habitat for rare, threatened, and endangered species of plants and animals," the release said.

"Multiple aquatic systems and sensitive species along five miles of frontage on the Coosawhatchie and Tulifinny rivers will be protected while the diversity of wildland recreation opportunities in Jasper County will be expanded, increasing tourist attraction, stimulating the economy, and providing an opportunity to educate all on the wise use and management of our natural resources," Fulghum said.

The property includes a sand ridge that hosts a growing population of 150 gopher tortoises. A federally designated “at risk” species, gopher tortoises excavate burrows that provide habitats for dozens of other animals, making it a “keystone” species, the release said.

“We are excited about the protection of the Slater tract and appreciate the partnership of OSI to ensure this tract remains a key piece for natural resources, such as the state endangered gopher tortoise,” DNR director Robert Boyles said.

Other rare animals at the site include southern hognose snakes, federally protected Rafinesque’s big-eared bats, bald eagles, Florida pine snakes and eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, OSI said.

The Slater tract links the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge with the Southern Lowcountry Focus Area, according to the release. Combined, they "cover more than a tenth of South Carolina’s land area, and constitute one of the largest undeveloped, ecologically intact regions on the East Coast."

“The protection of Slater is not just a game changer for future ecosystem protection and land use in this region. It is the game changer,” said Chris Marsh, director of the Spring Island Trust and the Lowcountry Institute said. “OSI’s protection of the Slater Tract is a huge win for all those who love the outdoors in the region because it represents the first critical step in protecting the headwaters of the Port Royal Sound.”

'He was a loving young man': Sumter County mother remembers son's life

Sumter County Sheriff's deputies say 23-year-old Derrick Slater was found dead along Scales Road around 11 a.m. Saturday. He was reported missing October 22.Sumter County, SC (WLTX) -- In Sumter County, an investigation is underway into the death of a missing man.Sumter County Sheriff's deputies say 23-year-old Derrick Slater was found dead along Scales Road around 11 a.m. Saturday.RELATED: ...

Sumter County Sheriff's deputies say 23-year-old Derrick Slater was found dead along Scales Road around 11 a.m. Saturday. He was reported missing October 22.

Sumter County, SC (WLTX) -- In Sumter County, an investigation is underway into the death of a missing man.

Sumter County Sheriff's deputies say 23-year-old Derrick Slater was found dead along Scales Road around 11 a.m. Saturday.

RELATED: Missing Sumter man found dead, ruled suspicious

They say his body was found a short distance from his car off Coon Ridge Road. The vehicle was located Friday.

Officials say they're ruling Slater's death as suspicious and say it appears to be the result of a robbery.

"I don't understand, I don't know what happened. I don't know what went wrong," said Slater's mother, Shandel Porter.

Porter says her son was a big teddy bear, and never harmed a soul.

Credit: Family Members

"His nickname is 'Snacks'," she said. "The reason why we call him Snacks is because I have a convenience store. He used to always come out here and get my snacks and take them and sell them at school. "

A Rembert native and graduate of Crestwood High School, Slater's dream was to be a rapper and promoter.

Loved ones say everyone fell in love with his energy and personality.

"He was a loving young man. Everybody, and when I say everybody, everybody fell in love with him," said Porter.

Slater was a hard worker, his mother says. He was recently promoted to manager at a McDonald's in Camden.

Credit: Family Members

"One day we had a conversation and he said, 'Mom, I started from the bottom at McDonald's making $7.25. Look where I am today'," said Porter.

Slater was about to become a first-time father. His baby boy is due November 29.

Officials say persons of interest have been identified in this case, but wouldn't release the names to the public.

A candlelight vigil for Slater is set for Sunday at 7 p.m. at The Yellow Store off Pisgah Road in Rembert.

Lowcountry swamped: How to keep cookie-cutter growth from killing SC’s golden goose

OPINION AND COMMENTARYEditorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporte...


Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.

This is part of the Lowcountry Swamped series. Read about the problem of over development in the Lowcountry and the history behind a tract of Jasper County land being considered for conservation.

For once, a yellow-throated warbler bid me good morning deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry instead of the usual full-throttled leaf blower.

I was touring a great new wonder — the 5,000-acre Slater tract in northern Jasper County that will not only be saved from development forever but also be open to the public.

“It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of property I’ve ever seen,” said Dana Beach, the retired founding director of the Coastal Conservation League.

He calls it “the epicenter of biodiversity in the South,” and retired Lowcountry Institute director Chris Marsh says it has “an incredible mosaic of habitat because of the topography” that make it as critical as any land in the state.

And since that tour more than a year ago, the adjacent 7,000-acre Buckfield tract is also being purchased for preservation, and public access.

This is the answer the problem of Lowcountry sprawl.

This is the only way the Lowcountry will be saved from the Atlanta-style development that has swamped Bluffton and Hardeeville and is now snaking its way into unincorporated Jasper County.

We’re at a tipping point and the saving grace, if it happens, will be public land ownership, public acquisition of development rights, and private landowners setting up voluntary conservation easements.

We now know the future of the Slater and Buckfield tracts.

They sit almost a dolphin’s leap from Exit 28 on Interstate-95. It’s easy to envision intense development there. We’ve witnessed the dark and lonely McGarvey’s Corner intersection half an hour away morph into an overcrowded cloverleaf outside Sun City Hilton Head.

And these tracts are laced with the Coosawhatchie and Tulifinny rivers, forming a horseshoe of environmental protection around the headwaters of Port Royal Sound.

“We’re trying to change people’s mindset,” said Charles Lane.

He was an early instigator of the ACE Basin movement that has protected 320,000 acres between Hilton Head Island and Charleston over the past 30 years, and active in the Slater and Buckfield deals.

“If people think development is inevitable, they are unlikely to be a player for conservation. If they think conservation is a more likely outcome, they are more willing to talk.

“What Buckfield and Slater do for us is provide an anchor up here. We can build on that.

“And we’re going to have to find other anchors.”

Land conservation has a lot of momentum in South Carolina.

The Slater and Buckfield deals show it.

It helps conservationists when land is still held in large tracts, as it is in the Lowcountry. Big tracts were often plantations, then tree farms or hunting preserves, now often owned by interests nationwide as timber investment management organizations (TIMOs).

Hampton County native Wise Batten, who owns a forestry management and real estate brokerage firm based in Estill, calls them “a timber hedge fund.”

They would approach pension plans, endowments, insurance companies and very wealthy people and say ‘we can earn you 5% over a long period.’”

In Beaufort County and in Hardeeville, former timber land was often sold in big tracts to developers who got it annexed into a town with a development agreement in hand, then flipped parcels to national homebuilders such as D.R. Horton and neighborhoods sprang up overnight.

On the other side, a couple of national organizations that made the Slater and Buckfield deals possible came seeking long-term conservation of environmentally sensitive land for it to remain in traditional uses and thwart sprawling development.

The Open Space Institute (OSI) bought the Slater tract in three chunks for about $20 million. It will get that money back when the state buys the land and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources manages it for wildlife and land protection, as well as public uses such as hiking, fishing and hunting.

The Nature Conservancy bought half of the Buckfield land for about $16 million and OSI is expected to buy the rest by the end of the year. The state is to buy that tract as well, setting up a 12,000-acre wildlife management area with public access.

To make this possible, private foundations and donors got help from the federal government with the aid of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, and allocations from the state legislature, the state Conservation Bank, and the S.C. Heritage Trust program.

“We’ve seen an unprecedented amount of state resources for conservation,” Lane said — more than $100 million recently. The same is true at the federal and county levels, he said.

The Lowcountry also has a collaborative conservation community, with OSI, the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, land trusts, and private property owners working together with state and local governments — and working across county lines.

“There is more money than there ever has been to do this at the federal, state, local and private level,” Beach said. “And there’s more landowner awareness. There’s a more competent big-land conservation movement now.

“If we look back and see the evolution of the protected land base, it’s not only better zoning and better public policies, but also a better attitude with local citizens and local government.”

The Lowcountry’s golden goose is not the beach or military that have drawn so many people here.

It is the land itself, with graceful trees and stirring wildlife, its meandering creeks and rivers, and marshes cackling with life.

And private property owners who appreciate that have led the way in land conservation.

“South Carolina has quite a conservation story to tell the nation,” said Kate Schafer with the Open Land Trust based in Beaufort.

The ACE Basin story is based on private landowners making individual conservation easements.

Batten and his wife have placed a large tract near Estill in a permanent easement, for example, and he points to neighbors doing the same, such as the John D. Carswell family.

The Slater tract was sold by Glover Real Estate LLC of Bluffton.

Buckfield is being sold by Richard L. Chilton Jr. of Connecticut, owner of a global investment management firm. He also owns White Hall Plantation in Colleton County, and Bull Island in the May River near Bluffton.

He told The Island Packet in 2001, “We’re preservationists, not developers.”

Jasper County administrator Andy Fulghum sees the future 12,000-acre Wildlife Management Area as a perfect fit for the region.

He says it is part of recreational economy, which includes private hunt clubs and the Congaree Golf Club nearby, where the PGA Tour recently held its second tournament.

Combined with the quiet industry of solar panel farms that produce about $1 million annually for the county without demanding any services, Jasper County now sees a better option than hoping residential development will pay for itself, which it never does.

“Slater is going to be huge for us as sort of economic development and for providing recreational amenities for folks that we don’t have to pay for as local taxpayers,” he said.

Michelle Sinkler, special projects manager for OSI, said, “This is not only an anchor for homeowners but an anchor for leadership, to show Jasper and Hampton county leaders that this can be done. So when they do have, perhaps, a nonconforming project come in front of them, they have confidence in saying ‘no’ perhaps to annexations or inappropriate development proposals.

“We hope 12,000 acres in public lands can inspire leaders to make hard decisions.”

This story was originally published October 28, 2022, 5:00 AM.


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