Politics Supporters want a 70-mile park network along SC's Black...

Supporters want a 70-mile park network along SC’s Black River

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KINGSTAY, SC (AP) – A coalition working to connect a dozen local, state and private parks along 70 miles (113 kilometers) along the Black River in South Carolina has released a plan. Now they need $ 45 million to complete the project.

Black River Water Trail and Park Network Beginning at Kingstrey in Williamsburg County, winds blow along the dark, slow-moving river that meets the PD River north of Georgetown.

The network includes South Carolina’s newest state park, a location along the river that the organization donates to state parks, recreation and tourism. These include the Black River landing in Kingstreet, the publicly available Black River Cypress Preserve and The Nature Conservancy’s Black River Preserve and the Rocky Point Community Forest in Georgetown.

Supporters are seeking money from the federal government, members of the state legislature, COVID-19 relief, other grants and private donations.

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For centuries, the Black River near the South Carolina coast has been a hub for travel, business and high living. Maria Whitehead, vice president of Southeast Land at the Open Space Institute, said the river network could highlight all of them.

“The master plan enhances the potential of this magnificent and environmentally important river by creating a world-class park network that also provides recreation, tourism and flood resilience,” Whitehead said.

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  • The network includes campsites, flood-resistant treehouses, hiking trails, boardwalks, picnic shelters and a visitor center.

    “A visitor can spend a few hours on picnic or hiking sites,” said Gates Roll, owner of Guide Service Blackwater Outside. “Or, for those who are more adventurous, park a kayak in Kingstry and stop paddling for a week to Rocky Point and camp at several park sites along the way.”

    The plan also minimizes problems from catastrophic floods. By keeping the floodplain undeveloped, the land acts as a sponge for excess water and slows it down, most of which will be absorbed over time, said Ben Duncan, South Carolina’s chief resilience officer.

    “By protecting the land along the river, we have a tremendous opportunity to protect the area’s residents and businesses from the devastation caused by catastrophic floods,” Duncan said.

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