South Carolina congressional delegation expands Congaree National Park

Nov 19, 2009

South Carolina recently received $1.3 million dollars to expand Congaree National Park. Bipartisan legislative support made this expansion possible for the state’s only national park. President Obama signed the 2010 Interior Appropriations bill which made the money official.

The support for the appropriations bill in South Carolina came from of Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D – 6th).

“Senator Graham and Representative Clyburn made expanding this national park a priority for the people of South Carolina,” said Frank Peterman, director of public and political awareness of the eastern forest program for The Wilderness Society who has worked for several years to obtain funding for the expansion. “Everyone who likes to enjoy the outdoors and who appreciates the value of cleaning drinking water can celebrate this victory.”

Along with bipartisan support, a partnership comprised by local and national organizations The Trust for Public Land, and Friends of Congaree Swamp and The Wilderness Society pushed for the appropriations bill.

“It’s a huge deal for the park,” said Congaree National Park Superintendent Tracy Swartout of the money so far received. “Once we get the rest of the funding, we will have a fairly uninterrupted stretch of the Congaree River and 30 miles of land the public and wildlife can utilize.”

I’m writing you today to encourage your editorial writers to recognize what our state’s congressional delegation and local organizations did to acquire the added land. The work they accomplished is something South Carolinians will be able to appreciate for generations to come. Congaree National Park and other public lands provide recreational opportunities that many have never experienced before.

Their job, however, is not done. There’s something else our congressional leaders can do.

In order to protect national forests like Congaree, our conservation champions must continue to set good examples. A bill has been introduced that would expand conservation opportunities nationwide.

Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) recently teamed up with Sen. Max Baucus (D- Mont.) to co-sponsor a bill that would make the annual $900 million for the Land Water Conservation Fund mandatory. Currently there is no guarantee that the LWCF will get this funding every year.

The Land Water Conservation Fund is a federal program that provides monies and matches grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water for the benefit of all Americans. South Carolinians should contact their congressional representatives and both of our U.S. senators and ask them to support the new bill.

The Wilderness Society is asking your editorial page to recognize the bipartisan support that occurred and also make South Carolina readers aware of the new bill. If they take the next step and help promote full funding for the LWCF, the U.S. will be guaranteed funding that will preserve land, protect wildlife and provide the public with more outdoor opportunities. With the passage of the Baucus and Bingaman bill, land expansions like Congaree’s would be much more common in South Carolina and all over the nation.