Hopkins, SC - As the nights begin to cool and the days grow ever so shorter, park rangers are working with community partners to provide a number of special programs and activities. These activities will focus on the stories of Congaree National Park and the connections associated with the communities surrounding the park.
On Saturday, September 30, the park will celebrate National Public Lands Day which will provide opportunities for visitors and community volunteers to assist with a number of park projects. That same day there will be a community bike ride offered as part of a nationwide “Bike Your Park” day. The ride will begin and end at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center and will take in the pastoral settings of rural Lower Richland County and will be geared toward those with experience riding on area roads and appropriate safety equipment. Refreshments and special gifts will be provided for participants.
The weekend of October 6 and 7 will feature a wide range of programs as the park works with Southeast Rural Community Outreach (SERCO) to host SwampFest. The event will feature guided hikes, exhibits, history programs, and an art contest for area youth with prizes awarded for each grade. “If These Trees Could Talk” will be this year’s theme for the art contest and programs which will highlight stories of the many groups of people that are part of the rich history of Congaree National Park. Area students are encouraged to submit artwork to the Harry Hampton Visitor Center no later than Wednesday, October 4. All of the artwork will be displayed as part of the event. All park programs will be offered in conjunction with additional programs offered at Mt Moriah Baptist Church and the historic Harriet Barber House.
Park staff will gather with community members and Friends of Congaree Swamp in the eastern end of the park on Saturday, October 14 to begin work on a new park trail. The trail will provide access to the Bates Old River and a wide range of natural features. New educational displays will be installed at the new trailhead which will focus on the natural world and area history.
“It is a priority for park staff to continue working with the community and to provide opportunities for park visitors,” says Park Superintendent Tracy Stakely. “Park stories are closely intertwined with the people that have called this area home for generations. We are looking forward to working with park partners and community members to highlight these stories.”
For information on these programs at Congaree National Park please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/cong or call the Harry Hampton Visitor Center at (803) 776-4396.