I’ve been going to the upper Santee River with my dad since I was old enough to walk. We like to put in at Wilson’s Landing in our little aluminum john boat and float down the river, fishing for bream and bass. When I was young, in the heat of the summer, I’d jump out of the boat and swim in the cool water, digging giant mussels from the riverbed. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Read on to learn more about the area and how establishing a local conservation bank in Berkeley County will enable the permanent protection of the Santee River and other special places.
If you have ideas for Berkeley County, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at [email protected] or call me at (843) 723-5127.
The Berkeley County Dispatch
Way out past Pineville, in the northwest corner of the county, Wilson’s Landing lies nestled in the shadow of the massive Santee Dam separating Lake Marion from the Santee River. From the parking lot, the bank slopes dramatically down to the water, a reminder of what the river would’ve been like before the dam was constructed in 1942. On a weekend afternoon, you might find folks at the water’s edge fishing for redbreast and shellcracker with long cane poles, or families camped out on the bank. If you can get downstream in a boat, the river runs wild for miles without any signs of human habitation or development. Great blue herons wade in the shallows and belted kingfishers chatter as they fly from bank to bank, surveying the surface of the river for minnows to eat. The 25-mile stretch from Wilson’s Landing to the Highway 52 Landing is perfect for an overnight adventure. This paddle trail is part of the Berkeley Blueways system.
Walters Grave Road
From the parking lot at Wilson’s Landing, a path extends through the woods alongside the river. This is known as Walters Grave Road. The whole area feels like a place and time unto itself—pleasantly removed from the hustle and bustle of modern living. From the trail, you can see two simple, remarkably well-preserved headstones dating back to the early twentieth century. Oddly, neither is attributed to the Walters family. Instead, the headstones mark the final resting places of a man and woman by the name of Broughton.
If you decide to visit Wilson’s Landing—for a day of fishing or an overnight trip—make sure to be respectful of the river and the land. Pack out your trash, keep your campsite as low impact as possible, and make sure to fully extinguish your fires.
Conserving the Santee River
While the land along the upper Santee River is still very remote, much of it is unprotected, meaning it could be developed in the future. Establishing a local conservation bank would enable the permanent protection of land along the upper Santee River, ensuring future generations are able to experience one of the most gloriously wild places in the Lowcountry.
A local conservation bank is a fund dedicated to protecting local land with significant natural, cultural, and or historical resources. It can be used to help landowners protect private land, and for the county to establish passive parks and open spaces for public use.
Join us on Sunday, December 13 at Beidler Forest Sanctuary, along with our friends at Audubon South Carolina, to learn more about our vision for a local conservation bank and how it could be used to preserve critical natural resources like the upper Santee River, save family farms and hunting grounds, and manage growth. The event will be socially distanced in the outdoor classroom. Masks are required. Register here.
Additionally, a representative from the Trust for Public Land will be attending the Land Use Committee Meeting on December 14 to present various funding options for a local conservation bank. Attend in-person or watch on Facebook to learn more. You do not need a Facebook account to watch the meeting.
Staying Up-to-speed in Berkeley County
The holiday season is always busy, and this year is more chaotic than ever. I hope you stay safe and as stress-free as possible. If you have time, tune-in to these meetings to stay up-to-speed of the various goings-on in Berkeley County.
Conserving Berkeley County—Keystone of the Lowcountry – Sunday, December 13 at 2 p.m. Beidler Forest Sanctuary – Outdoor Classroom, 336 Sanctuary Road, Harleyville, SC 29448. Register here.
Berkeley County Land Use Committee – Monday, December 14 and Monday, January 11 at 6 p.m. Administration Building – Assembly Room, 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner. Agendas, when posted, can be reviewed here.
Berkeley County Council – Monday, December 14 and Monday, January 25 at 6 p.m. Administration Building – Assembly Room, 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner. Agendas, when posted, can be reviewed here.
Berkeley County Planning Commission – Wednesday, December 16 and Tuesday, January 26 at 6 p.m. Administration Building – Assembly Room, 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner. Agendas, when posted, can be reviewed here.
Berkeley County Council Re-Organizational Meeting – Monday, January 4 at 6 p.m. Administration Building – Assembly Room, 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner. Agendas, when posted, can be reviewed here.