Officials with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) gathered with local tourism and legislative leaders on Thursday (June 6, 2018) to dedicate a newly constructed fishing pier at Lake Edgar Brown in Barnwell, one of the 18 fishing lakes in the agency’s State Lakes Fishing program.
State Representative and Barnwell native Lonnie Hosey was on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon adorning the handicapped accessible pier. SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor credits Rep. Hosey with taking the initiative to work towards getting the new amenity placed at this popular community recreation spot.
“It was Representative Hosey’s vision that started the ball rolling on this successful project,” said Taylor. “He has always been a strong supporter of the SCDNR and of the sportsmen and women of this state, and we are glad to have been able to work with him on this project to provide a new place for families and, especially, young people to come and be able to fish and enjoy the outdoors here in Barnwell.”
Rep. Hosey echoed those sentiments, but also said he couldn’t take the credit for coming up with the idea originally. It was a longtime constituent of his, Mr. Cecil Ayers of Barnwell, who first put forth the idea of a fishing pier at this location that would make it possible for senior citizens, families and people with physical disabilities to fish and enjoy the lake.
“I really appreciate all the [SC] DNR has done to make this happen,” said Hosey.
“We’ve got a great asset here with the lake,” added Taylor, “and our fisheries staff has done a tremendous job of stocking it so that folks can be successful in fishing it, but the main thing is access. There are a lot of folks in Barnwell County and in South Carolina who don’t have boats. One of our [SCDNR’s] main commitments is to provide access to the public. Our goal is get more people out fishing and to provide all the opportunities we possibly can.”
“It’s especially important for us to be able to get people out fishing,” said SCDNR Deputy Director for Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Emily Cope. “Our State Lakes program is critical to us, and we are happy to be here and partner in this effort.”
The 100-acre lake has long been a favorite spot for in-the-know locals around the Barnwell area— a great place to spend a few hours fishing for bream, bass, shellcrackers or catfish, as well as boating, paddling, picnicking or just getting some exercise by walking or jogging around the maintained trails along its banks. But it’s also become an important part of marketing the area as a destination for visitors, according to Mary Ann Keisler, Regional Tourism Director with the Thoroughbred Country tourism marketing organization, which covers Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg and Barwell counties. Promoting fishing in South Carolina is a key strategy for her organization and for tourism marketing statewide — particularly for “undiscovered” areas. Outdoor recreation and tourism can play an important role in economic development in rural South Carolina
“This plays right in to what we are trying to do,” said Keisler, “we are very excited to see this.”