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Norfolk Southern Corp. yesterday announced a plan to expand protection of ecologically significant land in South Carolina's coastal plain.The plan involves a conservation easement and a wetlands restoration project designed to benefit the environment and economic growth, NS officials said in a press release. The Class I will restore 290 acres of historic pocosin wetlands at its Brosnan Forest timber and wildlife preserve near Dorchester, S.C., 35 miles northwest of Charleston. The site will be managed as a wetland mitigation bank that could be used by developers and government agencies to offset loss of wetlands associated with business development in the region. A conservation easement donated by the company to the Lowcountry Open Land Trust — now known as Lowcountry Land Trust (LLT) — will permanently protect the acreage as wetlands and restore its hydrology to natural drainage patterns, NS officials said.The new agreement builds on an arrangement set up in 2008, when NS agreed to protect 12,488 acres at Brosnan Forest through a conservation easement granted to LLT. It was thought to be the largest corporate donation in South Carolina. The donation announced yesterday results in 12,778 acres at the Forest under permanent easement protection, officials said."Being a good steward of the environment is central to Norfolk Southern's governance culture and our practice of corporate responsibility," said Bruno Maestri, vice president government relations, corporate communications, and corporate sustainability officer. "We're always looking for innovative and cost-effective ways to minimize and mitigate the environmental impacts of business operations. We're proud to be collaborating, once again, with the Lowcountry Land Trust on this effort."
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