COLUMBIA, SC (June 1, 2022)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced the successful protection of riverine land adjacent to the popular Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve near downtown Columbia, South Carolina. The land, home to exceptional habitat and remarkable history, will nearly double the size of the preserve when it is transferred to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).
The 641-acre property — home to extensive longleaf pine habitat, high bluffs, and stands of rare evergreen trees — is located upon the banks of the Congaree River and features a series of trails for nature viewing. A bounty of wildlife calls the property home, including hawks, waterfowl, deer, wild hogs, and more than 30 species of amphibians.
With its protection, the land will increase the size of the Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve, already one of the largest urban preserves of its kind in South Carolina, to more than 1,200 acres. Together, the preserve and this newly protected addition are nestled along one of the most scenic, wildlife-rich stretches of river in the Columbia area, and within one of the most quickly developing counties of South Carolina.
“The Open Space Institute is proud to save habitat, enhance public access, and secure historical lands for the residents of Columbia and beyond,” said Nate Berry, OSI Senior Vice President and Southeast Office Director. “We are pleased to work with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to continue to protect more of the state’s most important natural areas. We also thank the South Carolina Conservation Bank which was instrumental in providing funding for the project.”
In addition to its lush habitat, the land is rich in history. Indigenous peoples are believed to have inhabited the land starting some 1,200 years ago. Based on artifacts, archeologists believe these hunter-gatherers, drawn by the proximity to the Congaree River would set up camp in the area during the winter months before departing down the river to the Atlantic Ocean.
Starting in the 1700s, the land was settled by Europeans and Colonists before serving as an outpost during the Revolutionary War. Later, it was the site of a Civil War standoff between Sherman’s troops and Confederate soldiers.
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and working lands, and sustain communities. Founded in 1974 to protect significant landscapes in New York State, OSI has been a partner in the protection of more than 2.3 million acres in North America, including more than 70,000 acres in the Southeast. Visit OSI online at openspaceinstitute.org.