Tax check off could benefit SC State Forestry Commission - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tax check off could benefit SC State Forestry Commission

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COLUMBIA, SC (WTOC) -

This is the fourth tax season that taxpayers anticipating a refund will have an option to contribute all or part of it to sustaining state owned forestlands.

The General Assembly passed an income tax check off creating the SC State Forests Fund during the 2010 Legislative Session.

"We've been able to launch a number of improvement projects at our state forests, thanks to the generosity of South Carolina tax filers," said Scott Hawkins of the Commission's public information office, in a statement.

Some of the projects that are underway or completed include a new fishing pier on Hunter Pond at Sand Hills State Forest in Patrick, SC, and new permanent restroom facilities on the Manchester State Forest rifle range in Sumter County.

The Commission manages six state forests to demonstrate that forestland can be fiscally and ecologically productive.

The state's manufacturing sector is made up of mostly forestry and timber-related businesses.

"Historically, landowners have looked to our state forests as role models," said Hawkins, in a statement. "As they set their own land management goals, they have the state forests to look to as living examples of the numerous benefits provided by sustainable forests."

South Carolina's state forest system relies on timber sales and recreational permit revenue for operating funds.

This income tax check off revenue allows the SC Forestry Commission to make improvements that would not otherwise be possible because they do not receive any money from the state.

"The Forestry Commission is the only state agency whose lands are entirely self-supporting," said Mike Shealy, the Commission's state lands manager, in a statement.  "Operating revenue is generated on-site and 25 percent of that is paid to the local school districts in lieu of property taxes."

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