Connecting Good Stewards with Great Land

a Conservation-minded real estate company?

Connecting Good Stewards
with Great Land™

Your slogan sounds good, but what does it mean? How do your agents actually find good stewards for the land you list?

Actually, at Holcombe, Fair & Lane, think of this process differently. Let’s back up a few steps and look at the listing interview…

1. We pick our clients and projects

Before we commit ourselves to representing rural property, we ask ourselves if it would be attractive to good land stewards. We evaluate the property’s characteristics and location and determine its best and highest use. We do not promote development scenarios for properties that would have a negative impact on the overall quality/character of the immediate and surrounding area.

2. our clients pick us

Our forthright branding messaging speaks of value for preserving the rural character of land that lies outside of urban growth boundaries. Our long history of involvement in conservation -minded organizations and personal practice of good land stewardship attracts the like-minded.

We don’t shun development. We know there is appropriate timing, location, and methods for building structure for a growing metro. We even have a successful commercial sales, leasing and management division within our firm!
But in our alignment with conservation-minded individuals in South Carolina, we also know there are targeted locations where ecosystems must remain unspoiled in order to preserve the limited and nonrenewable resources in our state.

Click here to view our recently sold properties.

interested in conservation-minded representation?

We have been so privileged to represent owners of rural land since our establishment in 1927. We look forward to a hopeful future of connecting good stewards with great land in South Carolina. If you’re interested in conservation-minded representation for a South Carolina property, please complete the form below and one of our land agents will reach out to you.

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Coy Johnston

coy johnston holcombe fair and lane charleston

Coy Johnston: "A Hero of Conservation"

A major focus of Coy Johnston’s life’s work has been to protect and steward South Carolina’s beautiful natural resources. Through the years, Coy fought countless battles toward this purpose and has lent extensive expertise in developing land stewardship plans for special places. Though coming from a modest background, his consist focus on good stewardship took him to exemplary heights in his field.

Coy Johnston grew up enjoying outdoors activities in in Varnville and Estill, South Carolina. Led by the influence of his grandfather  J.W. Yonce, an avid outdoorsman, Johnston pursued a degree in Forestry from the University of Georgia. Immediately after college, he served his country as First Lieutenant of the Combat Engineers Platoon in the Korean War. When he returned from war, Johnston began what would be a 25+ year career at MeadWestvaco. His duties included managing the 12,000-acre Bonneau Ferry Plantation, which was eventually sold to SC DNR in 2004 and converted to a Wildlife Management Area.

In 1979, Coy Johnston stepped into the role of regional director of Ducks Unlimited in South Carolina. Under his leadership, DU fundraising in SC increased from $250,000 to $1.25M, and he was promoted to East Regional Director for DU in 1987. One year later, he became project director for the Lowcountry’s Wetlands America Trust Program. In August of 1989, he was among a small group of land owners and conservationists that would counter a planned development of more than 1,000 houses on Edisto Island, and eventually start the ACE Basin Task Force. The below documentary tells the story. In 2019, this group celebrated their 30th year of conservation and their cumulative success in securing conservation easements for over 300,000 acres of land in the region along the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers ( See “Forever Wild: More Ducks Fewer PeopleCharleston Mercury 2019 ). For more on their work, visit the article “In Celebration of the ACE Basin.”

The video above documents Coy Johnston’s role in gathering a task force for land conservation in the beautiful ACE Basin of South Carolina.

In honor of Johnston’s conservation work upon retiring from Wetlands America Trust, the SC Legislature passed a resolution citing  Johnston as “one of South Carolina’s leading ambassadors in the effort to promote wise use and conservation our precious natural resources as well as our hunting heritage.” He was attributed as being “directly responsible for permanently protecting nearly 50,000 acres of wildlife habitat and has helped put almost one million acres of marshland, old rice fields and other lands under conservation easement.”

In addition to this honor, Johnston also received the 1993 Chevron Conservation Award and the National Wetlands Conservation Award from USFWS.

After retiring from Ducks Unlimited, Johnston joined the sales and land consulting team at Holcombe, Fair & Lane. His sales activity in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s encompassed over 30,000 acres, worth $35M.

Coy Johnston resides downtown Charleston with his lovely bride, Ann and their energetic Springer Spaniel, May. In his life he raised three daughters, and now enjoys seven wonderful grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

More on Coy Johnston

Birds of Winter” – on the Origin of the SC Waterfowl Stamp Program

On Common Ground: Stories of the ACE Basin” written by Dana Beach

Asphalt is Always the Last Crop” quote by Coy Johnston in Article

In Celebration of the ACE Basin

ACE Basin in South Carolina Waterfront Edisto Island Salt Point

The ACE Basin in South Carolina

The “ACE” Basin is an acronym for the confluence of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers along the Coastal Plain of South Carolina. It is a rich ecosystem that has been globally recognized for its environmental significance. The area has caught the eye of conservationists and outdoors enthusiasts — identifying it as key wetland habitat for wintering waterfowl and neotropical birds. In addition to its natural value, there are unique cultural and archaeological characteristics of properties in the ACE Basin area that narrate a complex history. 

american white ibis ace basin
American White Ibis in the ACE Basin

Protecting the ACE Basin

Spearheading the effort to protect this area is the ACE Basin Task Force. Chaired by private landowners since its inception in 1989, the Task Force is comprised of various entities who operate under a strict volunteer-based memorandum of understanding. The Task Force has identified a “focus area” of approximately one million acres that significantly impact the estuary.

A Crucial Collaboration

In August of 1989, John Frampton, Coy Johnston, and Mike Prevost assembled over 100 landowners and challenged them to protect the wonderful ecosystem of the ACE River Basin in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Matt Connolly, the Executive Director of Ducks Unlimited at the time, challenged them to do this not for themselves but for their children. Many of those original attendees have since passed — giants like Gaylord, Dorothy and Strachan Donnelley, Diane Terni, Gene Dupont, Dr. Jim Timmerman, Holly Richardson, Fritz Hollings and others. Yes, Matt Connolly was correct: they did it for us.

The Goal of the ACE Basin Task Force

ace basin map land protection
ACE Basin Map, March 2022 | Click to view full size

The original goal of this “ACE Basin Task Force” was to protect 90,000 acres. As of its 30th anniversary celebration in 2019, the ACE Basin passed the 300,000-acre mark. 83% of that protected land represented private initiatives – primarily via conservation easements. Since 1989, over 275 individual easements have been signed and recorded in the ACE Basin. This is a remarkable achievement. Without the efforts of the State and Federal government to promote public land, the ACE Basin would never have achieved the community support it now has.

Success Beyond Land Protection

While protected acres are good measure, the ACE Basin has seen so much more accomplished throughout the years:

  • Senator Chip Campsen authored the Conservation Bank legislation.
  • The US Army Corps of Engineers approved a general permit for the repair and maintenance of rice fields
  • The Residents of Edisto Island established a federally-designated scenic highway across the Island.
  • Highway 17 has been designed in such a way as to preserve its scenic qualities, reduce its ecological impact and provide safe travel.
  • Old Sheldon Church ruins have been documented and are being preserved.
  • Folk Land Management, Nemours WF and Clemson University teamed together for the mapping of our historic rice fields. Interestingly, this team is also researching the amount of material moved by hand by enslaved africans in order to create the rice fields. They estimate it to be 23 times the amount of material moved by hand to build the pyramids in Egypt. View July 2022 Press Release
  • The preservation of the archaeological ruins of Jehossee island, a historical time capsule.
Prince William's Parish Church "The Old Sheldon Church Ruins" Circa 1751-57, Beaufort County.
jehossee farms sc edisto island ace basin
Jehossee Farms (Jehossee Island) on Edisto Island, Permanently Protected Land in the ACE Basin

Property in the ACE Basin

There may be opportunities for you to invest in future generations through personal property ownership in the ACE Basin. Please complete the form below and one of our land agents will reach out to you with more information on current offerings.

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