Along its winding course, the Lynches River passes through a varied landscape of pine uplands, farms, rural crossroads, and deep swamp forest. Special features include numerous small islands and sloughs, intermittent bluffs, bottomland hardwood wetlands, and artesian wells. Along the 7.5 miles of riverfront protected as part of Lee State Natural Area and Lynches River County Park, trees soar to impressive heights untouched by the woodsman's axe. The river corridor provides excellent habitat for fish such as redbreast and wildlife including river otters, white-tailed deer, and wood ducks. Recreation opportunities abound. The river also holds historic significance as a hideout for slaves during the Civil War and as the site of the state's last duel. Fortunately, the landowners and communities along the Lynches have long recognized the value of the river's natural, scenic, and historic attributes.
In 1994, Governor Carroll Campbell signed the Lynches River Scenic River bill officially designating the stretch between US 15 in Lee County and the eastern boundary of Lynches River County Park in Florence County as a State Scenic River and in 2008, Governor Mark Sanford signed a bill extending the designated scenic stretch from the Florence County Park to the confluence with the Great Pee Dee River for a total of 111 miles through four counties (Darlington, Florence, Lee and Sumter).
In October 1994, the Lynches River Advisory Council was formed to guide development and implementation of a long-term management plan for the river. Completed in August 1997, and revised in 2003, the Lynches Scenic River Management Plan presents the results of an ongoing study of the river. Through study, the advisory council has identified several issues that will affect the future management of the river and proposed responsive, workable means to deal with those issues. At the same time, the advisory council looks for opportunities to protect the river and its resources through advocacy, cooperative efforts, education, research, and/or implementation of sound management practices.
The advisory council faced this challenging task to develop a plan that acknowledges and protects the unique and outstanding resources of the river while safeguarding the rights of private property owners. All of the plan's recommendations are guidelines or suggestions. They do not create any new regulations. Instead, the plan urges the river community to work together in a voluntary framework to protect the river. Participation in the plan's implementation is at the discretion of each individual, group, or governmental entity.
As Lynches River community members, the advisory council also acts as a steward and advocate of the river and spreads the word about the importance of this spectacular natural resource and its importance in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina.
Soon after the Lynches was designated as a State Scenic River, the director of the SC Department of Natural Resources (DNR) appointed a ten-member advisory council to put together a plan for long-term protection of the river. This council, chaired by DNR staff, is made up of local people who live in the community and know the river. A majority of the council members own property on the Lynches. The council includes business and private landowners, large and small property owners, life-long residents and newcomers to the area. Many of the original council members continue to serve. The current advisory council consists of the following:
- Bill Marshall - SC Department of Natural Resources
- Kenneth Strickland, Vice-Chair, landowner in Florence County
- Bryn Hammer, SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism; Lee State Natural Area/Woods Bay SNA and Joe Ross - Lynches River County park
- David Kelley, a riparian landowner in Florence County
- Edward (Mickey) McDowell, a riparian landowner in Lee County
- Robert Peeples, a riparian landowner in Lee County
- Anne Carraway, a riparian landowner in Sumter County
- Don Meredith, represents landowners in Darlington County
- Randy Stone, a riparian landowner in lower Florence County
- Vacant, a riparian landowner in the middle river segment of Lower Florence County
The Lynches River Advisory Council Also includes ex-officio members who serve on the council by virtue of technical expertise or a position held in the river-bordering community:
- Vacant, Darlington County Government/Council
- Debi Mathews , Florence County Government/Council
- Vacant, Lee County Government/Council
- Vacant, Sumter Government/County Council
- Wylie Owens, Pee Dee RC & D District, US Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Roger Hall, Watershed Manager, Department of Health & Environmental Control
- Alex Kelley, President, Lynches River Council
- Dr. John Rae, Biology Professor, Francis Marion University
- Brian Fox, The Timber Company
- Jenifer Majors, SCDNR District Conservationist
- Rosalind McClam, Lynches River Coalition/Clean Water
- Stan Hutto, Parks, Recreation and Tourism
- Barry Frick, River Rat Outfitters, recreation interest along the river
County First Alternate Members are local landowners/community members who become voting members in the absence of voting member from the same county. They serve on the council in an ex-officio capacity.
- Vacant, Darlington County
- Betty Strickland Hancock, landowner, Florence County
- Robert Peeples, landowner, Lee County
- Charles Truluck, landowner, Sumter County
Current Lynches River Project Activities:
- Biannual advisory council meetings: the advisory council meets to discuss river issues, progress of current projects, and plan future activities. The public is invited to attend, please contact Bill Marshall SC DNR for specific meeting locations and additional information.
- Outreach and Education: We are always looking to introduce more people to the exceptional resources of the Lynches River. To accomplish this goal, the advisory council hosts public seminars on various topics including, but not limited to, wildlife, water quality, and conservation. We are also happy to provide presentations about the Lynches River to interested groups. In addition, the advisory council also organizes recreational opportunities, such as canoe trips.
- Developing the Lynches Recreation Canoe Trail: Plans for a canoe trial are currently underway. We have just completed mapping the scenic portion of the Lynches River and are looking for historic photos, information, and anecdotes for inclusion in the trail. We envision a canoe trail stretching the entire segment with recreational, ecological, and educational information along the way. An SC State Trails Program grant has recently been awarded to SCDNR to fund a Lynches Scenic River Trail Guide.
Ongoing Lynches River Project Activities:
- Continue distributing the management plan to the river community.
- Continue efforts to build relationships with point source dischargers.
- Maintain regular contact with SC DHEC (review of permit compliance information, review of ambient water quality monitoring data, review of proposed NPDES permits, etc.)
- Clean-up the Sardis Baptist Church boat landing several times per year, which the advisory council co-adopted with the church. We also continually look for other local groups willing to help keep other boat landings on the Lynches River clean on a year-round basis.
- Continue to explore the Lynches River by boat.
- Miscellaneous advocacy activities (dependent on issues-at-hand).
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
Telephone: (803) 734-9096