Richland County launches drone program to help conservation

Richland County is launching a new drone program to help monitor conservation easements.
Richland County is launching a new drone program to help monitor conservation easements.(Richland County)
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 2:52 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland County said Tuesday a new drone program is coming to the Midlands.

The County’s Geographic Information Systems division (GIS) is partnering with the conservation division to fly unmanned drones over rural areas to monitor conservation easements.

Richland County is launching a new drone program to help monitor conservation easements.
Richland County is launching a new drone program to help monitor conservation easements.(Richland County)

Using the drones, pilot Ben Jones and staff can help keep track of the conservation without intruding on property owners. The county said it will use the drones to look for non-compliant developments, encroachment and garbage dumping. It will also allow the county to monitor the health of trees and waterways.

Conservation easements are used to protect natural areas, farmland, wildlife habitats, stream buffers and scenic spaces while maintaining private ownership. Land owners voluntarily give up their ability to subdivide but continue to hold their farm, timber and recreational rights.

John McKenzie III, Richland County conservation program analyst said, “Visiting and meeting with property owners is still crucial, and the drone is an additional method of documenting the status of easements.” The aerial photos will be available for property owners to view.

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