WATCH: Celebrating 75 Years of Public Land in S.C.
To celebrate 75 years of public land in South Carolina, the Department of Natural Resources takes us to its newest property just 17 miles east of Columbia
RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WOLO) – To celebrate 75 years of public land in South Carolina, the Department of Natural Resources takes us to its newest property just 17 miles east of Columbia.
SCDNR acquired the Wateree River Heritage Preserve wildlife management area in June of 2015. Though, the park sustained damage during October’s flooding, so the 3,647 acre site was closed for a period after. The property is open to the public seven days a week.
Region three coordinator for the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries division, Willie Simmons, said from Long Leaf Pines in the Uplands, to the bottom-land hardwoods by the Wateree River, he appreciates the vast diversity this plot of land has to offer.
“Get a chance to get outdoors and just enjoy some of South Carolina’s wild areas and enjoy the wildlife,” he said.
It’s just a fraction of more than a million acres of land, owned and leased by DNR, deputy director for the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries division, Emily Cope said.
“Most people don’t have farms, or country areas where they can go and enjoy the outdoors,” Cope said. These lands, she said, take their place.
“Whether you’re on the coast with Botany Bay, or up in the mountains with Jocassee Gorges, people love our properties, they love the peace they experience when they go out on there,” she said.
Managing these lands comes with a big price tag; in the currency of money and personnel. Cope said wildlife biologists and technicians work year-round, diversifying wildlife, managing the timber and keeping roads in good shape. DNR doesn’t get any state appropriated funds to manage these sites. No matter the obstacles, Cope says being out here, is indescribable.
“I want to make sure that’s there not only for my children, but also my grand children.”
At the Wateree River Heritage Preserve, you have until an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset to take it all in.
Click here to find out more about the preserve’s location and hours.