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 1286 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.