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New state park plan includes water trail, access to Black River

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 6:32 AM EDT
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GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A proposed state park plan would provide the public with new access to a 70-mile stretch of the Black River in Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties.

Several government agencies and private groups working together on the Black River Water Trail and Park Network say it will connect a number of pieces of land from the state and private partners like conservation groups to create a different kind of experience for people. Part of the initiative includes what would be the first new state park to open in South Carolina in nearly two decades.

The goal is essentially a linear park and trail with stops along the river.

It’s a larger effort to look at what spots are currently open to the public along the river and adding the amenities people want. In March, the state’s Department of Natural Resources released a new river management plan to shape development in the area.

CLICK HERE for more information on the plans.

The project is now at the public comment stage. Three in-person and virtual meetings are scheduled, the first happening at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Howard Center in Georgetown.

Those who can’t make the meetings can also share their thoughts online via multiple community surveys.

One of the groups involved in the project is the Winyah River Alliance, which owns the land that makes up Rocky Point Community Forest.

Executive Director Tina Christensen said the different organizations realized even though all the land doesn’t connect, people could still find ways to enjoy it as one larger experience.

“We see this initiative as a way that we’re going to be able to expand, for the people that live in the area, their ability to enjoy it, but also bring in tourism and allow there to be more recreating on the Black River,” she said.

The forest is already open to the public, but Christensen said the alliance is ready to add more amenities as soon as this fall. The group has applied for grant money to cover the costs.

Bill Marshall with the DNR said grants to the Open Space Institute from a number of groups, including the National Parks Service, Conservation Alliance and Bunnelle Foundation, are being used for the master planning phase.

Funding for specific facilities hasn’t been worked out since the project is still in the concept phase but will likely come from a number of sources, including various government agencies and private grants, he added.

In addition, money from the South Carolina Conservation Bank and the North American Wetland Conservation Act helped the state buy the Hinds Canada property in Williamsburg County that is the planned location of a new state park.

The following public meetings have been scheduled to give people the chance to have a say in what they’d like to see.

  • Thursday, 6 p.m.: The Howard Center, 1610 Hawkings St., Georgetown
  • Monday, 6 p.m.: Andrews Regional Recreation Center, 220 S. Cedar Street, Andrews
  • Tuesday, 6 p.m.: Williamsburg County Public Service Administrative Building, 201 W. Main Street, Kingstree

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