WASHINGTON – The National Park Foundation, Friends of Congaree Swamp, and Open Space Institute announced the donation of the Running Creek property to Congaree National Park in South Carolina.
"Thanks to this collective effort, paddlers, birders, and anglers can now enjoy this spectacular waterway, all the while knowing that this habitat, providing an important buffer for a wading-bird rookery, is being protected as part of Congaree National Park,” said National Park Foundation Vice President for Resource Management Jason Corzine.
The property, spanning 216 acres and formerly owned by the timber company Weyerhaeuser, is home to beautiful bald cypress and tupelo trees and is a favorite spot for paddlers.
"Acquiring Running 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."
A tributary of the Congaree River, Running Creek runs for three miles inside Congaree National Park. The National Park Service has long cared for the southern bank of Running Creek, but the northern bank was owned by Weyerhaeuser, who was interested in selling the property. The acquisition of this northern bank property enables the National Park Service to protect both banks, the creek’s important habitat, and two significant floodplain lakes. It also makes the lower stretch of the creek now available for recreation, as paddling there in the past meant encountering private land.
"The Running Creek tract serves a significant ecological function as a buffer for the park's wetlands. Thanks to our partners, visitors to Congaree National Park will have another outstanding recreational destination along the US 601 corridor at the eastern end of the park,” said Friends of Congaree Swamp President John Grego.
Many partners came together to ensure the protection and preservation of Running Creek. After Open Space Institute negotiated the contract for the property, the Friends of Congaree Swamp purchased the property in 2019 with funding from the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the National Park Foundation, including generous philanthropic support from the Friends of Congaree Swamp.
"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.
“We are happy that our former Running Creek property is now officially included in the Congaree National Park,” said Weyerhaeuser Senior Land Asset Manager Jeff Teal. “The partnership with Open Space Institute and Friends of Congaree Swamp was a great opportunity to ensure park visitors enjoy even more of the wetlands, wildlife and recreational opportunities that make this area so special.”
Thanks to a years-long effort by the National Park Service, the boundary of the park was adjusted to include the 216-acre parcel, enabling the Friends of Congaree Swamp to donate the property to NPS in September 2021, with funding support from the National Park Foundation and Open Space Institute.
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