MONCKS CORNER, S.C. – (Tuesday, March 8, 2022) – The Francis Marion National Forest is pleased to announce the completion of the Swamp Fox Passage Reclamation Project. What started as a simple partnership between the Francis Marion National Forest and Berkeley Soil and Water Conservation District in 2017 evolved into a comprehensive, five-year project involving nine partners across the Lowcountry.
To recognize this achievement and show our gratitude to those involved, the Palmetto Conservation Foundation and Berkeley Soil and Water Conservation District will be hosting a ribbon-cutting event at the Highway 52 trailhead at 10:30 am on March 11. The rain or shine event will highlight the completed work and be followed by an optional trail hike so attendees can see the improvements firsthand.
Location drop pin: (https://goo.gl/maps/C44U7WNcgu9YYoNr9)
“In broad terms, the goal of the project was to improve recreational opportunities on public lands in the greater Berkeley County area. As the scope of the project grew, so did the willingness for others to participate. “The Francis Marion National Forest is a remarkable resource for Berkeley County. It is exciting that such an incredible partnership has come together to make the Swamp Fox Passage a signature part of the Palmetto Trail and a destination for families to enjoy this wonderful outdoor environment,” said Berkeley Soil & Water Conservation District Commissioner Barry Jurs.
At 47 miles, the Swamp Fox Passage is the longest section of the cross-state Palmetto Trail. The passage traverses four distinct ecosystems through Francis Marion National Forest, including swamps made famous as hideouts of Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion. Mature long-leaf pine forests are home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Grassy savannas with abundant wildlife border Dog Swamp and Turkey Creek and a cypress pool footbridge offers excellent views of the impressive Wadboo Swamp.
Swamp Fox Passage Reclamation project highlights:
- Swamp Fox Passage
- Improvements to three miles of trail that bisect numerous wetlands between Highway 52 and 17A.
- Constructed 1342 feet of turnpikes
- Constructed 863 feet of boardwalks
- Swamp Fox trailhead improvements at 17A & Hwy. 52
- Expanded, leveled, and graveled parking area
- Installed an information kiosk and parking barriers
- Wadboo Canoe Trail improvements
- Posted navigational trail signs from trailhead to Highway 402
- Removed waterway hazards such as logs and woody debris
Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Title II funding provided the initial $241,000 to kickstart the project. Over its lifespan, that funding was supplemented by grant money, donated materials, and valuable volunteer hours. SRS Title II funds are United States Forest Service funds generated through multi-use activities, such as grazing, timber production, and special use permits, which are distributed to eligible counties to help maintain local roads and schools. Title II funds are retained by the Forest Service and are allocated to specific projects that have been reviewed and recommended by a local Resource Advisory Committee.
“Berkeley County is incredibly thankful to our state for Title II funding that trickles down and greatly benefits counties and their citizens. The Swamp Fox Passage will ultimately enhance tourism and quality of life opportunities for locals and tourists alike. Recreational success stories like this one are something our county leaders and elected officials will always champion and support,”said Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb.
“The project could not have been completed without the participation and dedication of a multitude of partners and organizations such as Berkeley Soil and Water Conservation District, Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF), Santee Cooper, and Berkeley County Roads and Bridges. “It takes partnerships to make great things happen,” said PCF director Mary Roe.