The U-S Forest Service is announcing $3.5 million in grants today as part of a new program to support jobs and healthy forests in communities across the country, including Pickens County, South Carolina. The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program is providing $400 thousand for Pickens County’s Nine Times Community Forest. According to the announcement, Naturaland Trust is to secure one of the three largest un-protected forest blocks left in the Blue Ridge Escarpment region of South Carolina. The 1, 648 acreage is said to support seven major forest types and provides a lush habitat for the black bear, ruffed grouse and peregrine falcons. Populations of whitetail deer, wild turkeys and trout draw sportsmen from all over the state. Implementing the Community Forest Program is a priority in the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, and supports the creation, expansion and enhancement of community spaces.