COLUMBIA, SC (Sep. 28, 2021)—The Open Space Institute (OSI), The National Park Foundation, and Friends of Congaree Swamp today announced the transfer of a key property to Congaree National Park in South Carolina. The land, which safeguards the park’s celebrated Running Lake Creek, will ensure permanent recreational access for paddlers, birders, and anglers, while safeguarding old-growth forests.
The property, spanning 216 acres and home to striking bald cypress and tupelo trees, was first acquired by OSI in 2019. The property’s transfer to the National Park Service enables the protection of two miles of the creek, while buffering it from nearby hunting lands.
"The addition of this important acreage to Congaree National Park, home to one of the most biodiverse landscapes remaining in the eastern United States – and one of the largest old-growth bottomland hardwood forests on the entire continent – is a terrific conservation victory,” said Open Space Institute Senior Vice President Nate Berry. "For generations to come, South Carolinians of all ages will be able to paddle on Running Lake Creek and enjoy the beauty of these serene forests. OSI thanks the National Park Foundation and Friends of Congaree Swamp for their tireless effort to see this project to completion.”
The property was first conserved after OSI negotiated the contract for the property, enabling Friends of Congaree Swamp to purchase the property with funding from the South Carolina Department of Transportation and National Park Foundation; as well as philanthropic support from the Friends of Congaree Swamp.
"Acquiring the Running Lake Creek property helps Congaree National Park better conserve the area's natural resources and provide greater access to recreation opportunities," said Congaree National Park Superintendent K. Lynn Berry. "Many recognize Running Creek for its astonishing biodiversity and have worked together to ensure its protection by the National Park Service for generations to come. It's gratifying to be part of such a collaborative and beneficial partnership."
Congaree National Park, spanning more than 26,000 acres, is located approximately 20 miles southeast of Columbia, SC. Home to numerous state and world record trees, the park brings 125,000 visitors a year to southern Richland County and is an important economic engine for one of the most economically depressed areas in South Carolina.
Founded in 1974, OSI has grown to become a partner in the protection of more than 2.3 million acres along the eastern seaboard from Quebec to Florida — including over 100,000 acres in the Southeastern U.S.