Friday, October 20, 2023 News · North Coast Newsletter

North Coast Newsletter – Mining Our Treasures

by Leslie Bogstad

Welcome to the October 2023 issue of the North Coast newsletter!

With Fall in full force, we can’t help but mention how great the weather has been. The relief from the summer heat truly makes you want to get outside and explore. This month we recognize a city owned park in the Waccamaw River floodplain, and invite you to explore it, but also discuss the threats it’s facing due to an expansion of a sand mine next door. Public parks are important for our health, provide connections to large conservation lands, and, in this case, protect wetlands that in turn protect us through water storage and filtration. Simply put, there are some places mines just do not belong! Please read on to learn more about how you can engage on this issue.

If you’d like to hear more about our projects or just finally meet us in person, we’re hosting this month’s Green Drinks! Come join us at Crooked Oak Tavern in Conway on October 24th from 5:30-7:30pm. We hope to see you there!

As always, please let us know if you have any suggestions for what you’d like us to cover in the next newsletter. We welcome your thoughts on how we can work together to enhance conservation on the North Coast. You can reach me [email protected] and Becky Ryon at [email protected].

Best regards,



In June 2017, the City of Conway opened the gates to the 237-acre Waccamaw River Park through a partnership with the Nature Conservancy. Park amenities were provided through a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation and include picnic shelters, hiking and mountain biking trails, a disc golf course, boardwalks, and observation platforms. The park is a nice escape from the city for residents, but also for nearby Coastal Carolina students. When I first visited the park, one thing that struck me was the trails through the floodplain, namely the Boardwalk/Island Trail past the kiosk to the right, providing many visitors with what I imagine is their first experience in this type of ecosystem. It’s one thing to pass by these floodplains on a boat, but quite another to immerse yourself in them by walking through on foot. If you enjoy birding, it is a great place to check some species off your list as well. The City of Conway got it right with this park by offering multiple options to recreate in one place.

River floodplains and swamps are ecosystems so vital to our survival and wellbeing in the Lowcountry. Without intact floodplains, we would not have extra water storage for when the rivers rise, nor would we have the natural filtration only these bottomlands can provide for our water quality. This park also provides buffers and connections to the Waccamaw River and the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, which are adjacent. But now this prized park is under threat from one neighbor that is not so great: a sand mine.



The Conservation League’s North Coast team has worked with partners and community members to submit comments and concerns to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) for the Backwater Farms LLC application for a mine expansion of an additional 10.5 acres. The brief backstory for this mine includes a controversial rezoning, which the Conservation League opposed along with 200 other petitioners, that allowed for sand mining on this parcel that was first declined by the City of Conway Council in 2017 and then shockingly approved three years later in 2020. This is despite the fact that the Future Land Use designation was “Conservation Preservation,” given its location and wetland composition. In 2020, the mine owner said the end goal for the entire 151-acre parcel was a conservation easement, but altering and stripping the land through mining first is not acceptable. Mines last for many years, as do their impacts. We are calling for an official public hearing to voice concerns and seek conditions that will help protect the Waccamaw River Park, the Waccamaw River, and the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge. We demand to see protections for the park users, wetlands, and wildlife.

We will be sure to notify all when we receive more information from SCDHEC on if the public hearing is granted and the date and location of the hearing. We thank everyone who acted on behalf of this park and the natural resources by writing SCDHEC with short notice earlier this month! Please plan to show up and speak out when the time comes for the SCDHEC public hearing. This is yet another example of how mine operators start small, under 5 acres, with a general mining permit and eventually move to expand under an individual mining permit. Let’s come together to protect our wetlands and public parks for future generations.



Upcoming Events

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the City of Halloween events in Conway this month! Waccamaw Outfitters are doing spooky river tours every Monday and Wednesday evenings.

Tuesday, October 24th 
5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Coastal Conservation League Green Drinks
Crooked Oak Tavern, 316 Laurel St., Conway
Myrtle Beach Green Drinks is a monthly happy hour series hosted by local organizations who are providing solutions to environmental concerns. Enjoy some socialization, education, and networking. And, we’re hosting this month! Learn how the North Coast team is working to protect the health of the natural resources of the South Carolina coastal plain and ensure a high quality of life for all of the people who live in and love this special place. Bring your friends, learn about local issues, and learn more about how you can be part of the solution. This event is FREE and open to the public. We look forward to you seeing outside on the patio!

Wednesday, October 25th
10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Bat Chat with Ranger Ann Wilson
Ron Daise Auditorium in the Lowcountry Center, Brookgreen Gardens, 1931 Brookgreen Dr., Murrells Inlet
Discover fascinating facts about bats as we learn their importance to humans and how we can help create a healthier environment for them. Free with garden admission.

Wednesday, October 25th
3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Justice for All: “400 Black Women and a Union – the 1969 Charleston Hospital Strike”
Southern Georgetown Library, 4187 Powell Rd., Georgetown
Claudia Smith Brinson, author of “Stories of Struggle: The Clash Over Civil Rights in S.C,” will present on the 1969 Charleston Hospital Strike: 400 Black Women, a Union, and the Southern Leadership.

Saturday, October 28th
7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Tour de Plantersville
Plantersville Elementary, 1668 Exodus Rd., Georgetown
The 5th Annual Tour de Plantersville is a unique cycling event that brings people together to discover the only Scenic Byway in Georgetown County. Perfect for history buffs, seniors, youth, families and weekend warriors! The ride includes designated pre-Civil War landmarks and hosts a Cultural Festival with local delicacies, live music, and youth activities. This year, ride participants will receive newly crafted medals for each of the rides! The Tour de Plantersville supports The Village Group, which strengthens the community by making positive changes in the lives of children. More info here.

Saturday, October 28th
River Celebration on the Waccamaw
4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Riverside Club, 1793 Riverside Dr., Conway
Join our friends Winyah Rivers at this beautiful riverside venue for amazing auction items, great food and refreshments, live music, wildlife exhibits, boat rides and more. Tickets available here.

Wednesday, November 1st
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Winyah Watershed Paddle
East Bay Park Kayak Launch 31 E Bay St, Georgetown, SC 29440
Join North Inlet-Winyah Bay Reserve Education staff for a brand-new program! Each month from March-November, they will kayak different areas of the Greater Winyah Bay Watershed. You must bring your own kayak, lifejacket and whistle. Registration is required.

Monday, November 6th-Thursday, November 9th
8:00 a.m.
Syrup Making at Freewoods Farm
9515 Freewoods Rd, Myrtle Beach
Help strip sugar cane and see syrup being made the old-fashioned way. More information here.

Tuesday, November 7th – Election Day
Don’t forget to get out and vote!

Friday, November 10th-Saturday, November 11th 
8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Garden Open: Fall is Here 2023
Moore Farms Botanical Garden, 100 New Zion Rd., Lake City
Self-guide yourself through 65-cultivated acres and take in the beauty of fall for FREE!
This is the only dog friendly weekend of the year. Find more information here.


County Government Meetings

Georgetown Planning Commission
Thursday, October 19 at 5:30 p.m.
129 Screven Street, Georgetown
Find more information here.

Georgetown County Council
Tuesday, October 24 at 5:30 p.m.
129 Screven Street, Georgetown
Find more information here. * This agenda may include the county tree ordinance second reading and we ask you to help us speak up for more tree protections. Please be on the lookout for updates on this opportunity to engage*

Horry County Planning Commission Workshop
Thursday, October 26 at 3 p.m.
Horry County Government & Justice Center, 1301 2nd Avenue, Conway
Find more information here.

Horry County Planning Commission
Thursday, November 2 at 5:30 p.m.
Horry County Government & Justice Center, 1301 2nd Avenue, Conway
Find more information here.

Contact Us

[email protected] · 843.723.8035

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