SCDNR acquires 644-acre property to double size of state preserve in Lexington County
October 24, 2023
Media contact: Stephen Fastenau, 803-240-4385, email@example.com
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources and its partners recently marked a major addition to Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve in Lexington County that doubles the size of the property. This addition significantly expands public recreation and cultural and educational opportunities in the Midlands.
SCDNR’s purchase of the 644-acre Taylor Tract means 1,286 acres are now protected as part of Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve. The $7.3 million purchase included $6.3 million from the SCDNR Heritage Trust Program and $1 million from the S.C. Conservation Bank, in partnership with the Open Space Institute.
The property was formally dedicated during a ceremony Oct. 20 at the preserve’s main entrance on Old State Road in Cayce.
"What a great day for the Midlands. What a great day for our conservation partners. What a great day for the state of South Carolina," SCDNR Director Robert Boyles said.
Of the 644 acres, 241 acres are upland sandhill ecosystem and 403 acres are wetlands that will be protected from development. The property allows for 10 miles of hiking trails and 10 miles of canoe and kayak paddling. Six Mile and Congaree creeks offer fishing opportunities.
That’s significant given that the heart of the Midlands has limited public recreation properties of this type, said Sean Taylor, senior archaeologist with the SCDNR Heritage Trust Program.
Archaeological surveys have produced evidence of 12,000 years of human habitation on the property.
The addition of the Taylor Tract forms a large anchor to protect the Congaree Creek watershed, laying the groundwork for a more comprehensive watershed preservation project.
Additionally, geological resources will provide more information about the development of the Congaree Creek floodplain. Fourteen plant species designated as critically imperiled have been identified within the protected area.
Ken Prosser, Assistant Deputy Director, SCDNR Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division: "SCDNR has been fortunate to protect more than 300,000 acres of significant habitat in South Carolina with the help of conservation partners. The Congaree Creek-Taylor Tract acquisition is another example of collaboration in which Open Space Institute and the S.C. Conservation Bank provided valuable assistance to the agency. Without their help, it would not have happened."
State Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington: "This expansion will double the size of the Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve, making it 25 percent larger than Central Park and one of the largest urban preserves this side of the Mississippi River. The Taylor family, who owned this property, has worked to help us preserve this property to be enjoyed by future generations. It is a tremendous benefit to the people of South Carolina."
Raleigh West, Executive Director, S.C. Conservation Bank: "Rarely does a property offer such a high degree of important wildlife habitat, archaeological significance and opportunities for public recreation all within a stone’s throw of a major population center. I believe, in time, Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve will emerge as one of the most popular natural resource areas in the Midlands."
Nate Berry, Chief Land Conservation Officer, Open Space Institute: "Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve is now one of the largest and most ecologically diverse and culturally significant urban forests in the eastern United States. We appreciate the partnership and dedication of the family, S.C. Conservation Bank, and SCDNR."