Bishopville, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SCPRT) and the Congaree Land Trust hosted a ribbon cutting on Monday, August 29 to celebrate more than 350 acres of land that will expand the footprint of Lee State Park.
The land donation was made possible thanks to a partnership between the Congaree Land Trust, the Lynches River Conservation Board, the Central Carolina Community Foundation, and South Carolina State Parks. Under the care of Lee State Park, the three new tracts of land included in the overall donation will be protected in perpetuity for future generations.
“Protecting water quality and the ecological integrity of the Lynches River watershed is of the utmost importance,” said Stuart White, Executive Director of Congaree Land Trust. “Through this partnership, we were able to accomplish our watershed protection goals while also meeting the increasing demand for public spaces. Lee State Park and the Scenic Lynches River provide outstanding opportunities for recreation and conservation education to local communities as well as those traveling through our beautiful state. We are thrilled to play a part in expanding these opportunities and securing these lands for the enjoyment and benefit of all.”
“As one of our original 16 state parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) before World War II, Lee State Park has a long history of not only providing recreational opportunities to locals and visitors, but also protecting and preserving the natural landscape,” said Duane Parrish, SCPRT Director. “This land donation enhances that core mission, adding significant acreage along the river and adjacent to the park’s management area, and opening up more possibilities to increase access to the beautiful Lynches River. We are so grateful to Congaree Land Trust, the Lynches River Conservation Board, and the Central Carolina Community Foundation for making this expansion possible.”
The three tracts have unique qualities that make the valuable additions to the park. The first tract is approximately 92 acres and is adjacent to the northwestern border of existing park property. It stretches to Lee State Park Road. The second tract extends the southern tip of existing park property, below Interstate 20. It is roughly 180 acres of swampland and forest floodplain along the Lynches River. The third tract is physically separate from the existing park footprint, adding approximately 92 acres and protecting frontage along the Lynches River just south of Darlington Highway.
Conveniently located off of Interstate 20 between Columbia and Florence, Lee State Park offers rich natural habitats in a serene setting. Spanish moss drapes the trees around the park’s visitor center, and bottomland hardwood forest wetlands make up the majority of the park’s nearly 3,000 acres. Visitors can drink from one of the park’s four artesian wells that were originally drilled by the CCC, take a walk on a boardwalk through the wetlands, stay on one of the park’s 48 campsites, or try to spot one of the 145 bird species that have been surveyed in the park. A favorite park for horse enthusiasts, Lee offers 12 miles of equestrian trails. From camping and hiking to fishing and educational programs, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this tranquil state park.