Congaree Blue Trail Honored with National Recreation Trail Designation
National Recognition Brings Prestige, Benefits and ResourcesJune 6th, 2008
Gerrit Jöbsis, American Rivers, 803-771-7114
Matt Rice, American Rivers, 803-771-7206
Columbia, SC – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced today that the Congaree River Blue Trail will join the prestigious list of National Recreation Trails. The designation will bring a host of benefits as well as increased visibility and funding to the Congaree River.
The Congaree River Blue Trail, celebrating its one-year anniversary, is the first Blue Trail established with the support of American Rivers and is now the first water trail designated as a National Recreation Trail in South Carolina.
“The designation of the Congaree River Blue Trail as a National Recreation Trail only reaffirms what South Carolinians have known all along — this river is a national treasure,” said Gerrit Jöbsis, Southeast Regional Director at American Rivers. “The Congaree River Blue Trail links the Columbia metro area to the Congaree national park wilderness and this designation stands as a tribute to all those who have worked so hard to ensure that this river remains a treasured community asset for generations to come.”
Blue Trails, also known as water trails, are the river equivalent to hiking trails. They are corridors developed to facilitate recreation in and along rivers and other water bodies. Blue Trails are found in urban settings as well as in remote environments. They come in all shapes and sizes and are used by paddlers, anglers, hikers, runners, picnickers, and those just seeking a bit of solitude.
American Rivers is working to build a constituency for protecting these community rivers through its Blue Trails Initiative. American Rivers convened a diverse group of partners to develop this Blue Trail including Congaree National Park, Friends of Congaree Swamp, Congaree Land Trust, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, The River Alliance, and Richland County Conservation Commission.
“Blue Trails like the Congaree can rekindle the public’s appreciation for America’s rich river heritage. These trails boost recreation and civic pride,” said Jöbsis. “As more people learn to appreciate the gift of rivers, they will want to protect them.”
The Congaree River, named after the Congaree Indians who used to live along its bank, serves as an important outlet channel for the entire Lower Saluda and Lower Broad watersheds, before merging with the Wateree River to form the Santee River. The Congaree River serves as a beacon for outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, biking, bird watching, botanical interests, and canoeing. The river corridor is also home to diverse wildlife including the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon, bald eagle, white tail deer, beaver, river otter and many fish such as striped bass, American shad, and blueback herring.
The National Trail System Act of 1968 authorized the creation of a national trail system comprised of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails to recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance. Designated trails are supported with an array of benefits, including promotion, technical assistance, networking and access to funding to promote the use and care of existing trails and stimulate the development of new trails to build on the national network. More than 1,000 trails in all 50 states, available for public use and ranging from less than a mile to 485 miles in length, have been designated as National Recreation Trails on federal, state, municipal, and privately owned lands.