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A grass-like plant with white flowers emerges from the marsh.
Information icon The proposed expansion would allow a population of the endangered bunched arrowhead to be conserved as part of Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

McKinney Tract in Greenville, South Carolina protects two rare plants

In the spring of 2019, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) acquired in fee-simple a 55-acre tract called the McKinney Tract located in Greenville County, South Carolina. This tract was purchased with Recovery Land Acquisition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partner funding from SCDNR and Naturaland Trust. Other partners involved included Forever, Southern Environmental Law Center, South Carolina Native Plant Society, and the SC Plant Conservation Alliance.

This fee simple purchase linked Blackwell and Bunched Arrowhead Heritage Preserves and further the recovery goals of two federally listed plant species found on site so that down-listing/delisting is possible. The tract lies between Bunched Arrowhead Heritage Preserve to the northeast and Blackwell Heritage Preserve to the west. Both of these Heritage Preserves were created to conserve rare Piedmont seepage forests and to help support the recovery of the federally endangered bunched arrowhead (Sagittaria fasciculata) and federally threatened dwarf-flowered heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora). The McKinney Tract was once slated for conversion to Bluestone Ridge housing development as recently as July 2017. Development pressure continues to be the greatest threat to both of these species as Greenville, South Carolina grows northward and Henderson, North Carolina grows southward. As such, the first priority for the recovery of these two species is the protection of existing populations and essential habitat. If the development had been allowed to occur, the existing plants would have perished and the hydrology of the area would have been negatively affected (seepage recharge disrupted), jeopardizing the survival of neighboring plant populations.

The McKinney Tract acquisition helps meet the recovery goals for bunched arrowhead by adding an additional protected colony to the Enoree River population. Currently, only six out of the required eight colonies are protected along the Enoree River (Bunched arrowhead, 5-year review, 2014). The Enoree River population contains the best developed and largest colonies of bunched arrowhead. The McKinney Tract acquisition would provide critical connectivity between colonies required for normal gene flow and support the hydrological integrity of the sensitive seepage areas. Although, currently, a Recovery Plan and thus recovery criteria for the dwarf-flowered heartleaf does not exist, the Service will review the status of this species in 2018. The McKinney Tract acquisition would provide an additional protected dwarf-flowered heartleaf population and would be factored into the status update. In addition to the federally listed species on site, the property is supports shortleaf sneezeweed (Helenium brevifolium) and stiff dogwood (Cornus racemose).


Tom McCoy, South Carolina Ecological Services Field Office Supervisor, (843) 300-0431

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