South Carolina project will provide both recreation and conservation opportunities

Securing private land conservation using conservation easements can have all sorts of benefits beyond just preserving the land itself.

By Corey Himrod December 8, 2022

Securing private land conservation using conservation easements can have all sorts of benefits beyond just preserving the land itself. There’s potential for protecting plant and wildlife habitat, maintaining clean water and providing space for outdoor recreation — just to name a few. So, it’s exciting when our member land trusts share some of the amazing work they’re doing that achieves several of these goals all at once.

That’s the case for the accredited Congaree Land Trust in Columbia, South Carolina, which, with grant funding from the Lynches River Conservation Board, donated more than 350 acres of land to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism to preserve and expand the footprint of Lee State Park. Located in Bishopville, SC, the park is one of 16 original state parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps before World War II and has a long history of providing recreational opportunities to locals and visitors, in addition to protecting and preserving the natural landscape.

Created in 1935, the park is significant for both its natural and historical values:

Along the Lynches River, which runs through Lee County, South Carolina, and is partially protected from development by the state of South Carolina, kayaking and canoeing trips can be taken through the park’s hardwood forest floodplain. Fishing may also be enjoyed from along the banks of the river and children can fish for catfish in the park’s artesian pond.

The park’s rich diversity of natural habitats and wildlife make it an ideal setting for nature walks and the interpretive, educational programs hosted on site. Equestrian facilities are also available. Lee State Park is one of the shrinking number of CCC parks with surviving structures that display the classic Conservation Corps architecture.

“Protecting water quality and the ecological integrity of the Lynches River watershed is of the utmost importance. Through this partnership, we were able to accomplish our watershed protection goals while also meeting the increasing demand for public spaces,” said Stuart White, executive director of Congaree Land Trust. “Lee State Park and the Scenic Lynches River provide outstanding opportunities for recreation and conservation education to local communities as well as those traveling through our beautiful state. We are thrilled to play a part in expanding these opportunities and securing these lands for the enjoyment and benefit of all.”

Read more about the expansion here.