Op-Ed: Protecting Special Places: What Is Your Legacy?

Editor’s Note: This commentary is provided by Lyles Cooper Lyles, executive director, Pee Dee Land Trust.

Nothing brings families in the Pee Dee together like the changing of seasons and the holidays. The woods have become not just tolerable but also inviting for passing time in a deer stand or watching the sunrise from a duck blind. Stories are exchanged over oyster tables and at barbeques. The aroma of wood smoke, giggles of kids in full pursuit of each other, the murmur of elders reminiscing – some things don’t change and for a lot of us that feels good.
At Pee Dee Land Trust (PDLT), we protect land, but in doing so we’re also protecting special places that hold memories, shared experiences, and traditions. Landowners across ten counties who’ve placed their properties under conservation easement with PDLT have the assurance that their forests and crops may change with the seasons, but little else will change. For these landowners, land matters, family matters, and leaving a legacy that connects the two is paramount.
The family of Caroline and Tim Dargan has roots that span centuries in the Pee Dee Watershed. The land has sustained their families and been an integral part of family traditions. They have chosen to define their legacy by placing conservation easements on their land and have also donated land to PDLT, which is now listed for sale contingent on a conservation easement.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale will support the Our Places endowment in memory of E. Ervin Dargan. This type of exceptional gift assures that PDLT’s land protection work can continue across the region far in to the future.
PDLT exists to protect working farm and forest lands and to support families just like the Dargans who want to ensure that their long-term goals for their property, their legacies, are honored forever regardless of ownership. Our primary land protection tool is a conservation easement, a legal agreement developed with the landowner that promotes conservation by outlining what activities can (or cannot) happen on the land. Land trust staff works with the landowners to understand the legacy they would like to leave and the conservation values that the landowner desires to protect and outlines their continued recreational and agricultural uses.
Our work is about clean water, a rich diversity of wildlife habitats, and beautiful landscapes; and it’s about traditions, past and present, those moments that tie us to each other and to the land we call home.
Share your memories, tell us your stories, and let us help you to protect the places that help those experiences live on.

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