Carolina programs preserving black-owned forests

RIDGEVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- A top official of the U.S. Agriculture Department is visiting South Carolina to get a look at a program to help preserve and restore forestland owned by blacks.

Joe Leonard visits Ridgeville, which is northwest of Charleston, on Thursday.

Earlier this year, sites in both North and South Carolina received federal grants to assist with a $1.2 million program to help African-Americans keep and maintain their forest property.

The grants went to the Center for Heirs' Property Preservation in Charleston and the Roanoke Electrical Cooperative-Roanoke Center in Ahoskie, N.C.

The program is designed to provide support for black forest owners as well as provide access to new forest technology. The programs also work to connect forest owners to new and traditional markets for their forest products.