Camden Receives $500,000 Conservation Grant for Riverfront Environmental Park

City’s creativity engineers new 24-acre riverfront attraction  

The City of Camden has been named a recipient of a Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant (LWCF) award of $500,000 for the construction of a major new riverfront outdoor recreation attraction on Bramblewood Plantation Road. The grant, made possible by the U.S. Parks Service, is one of the largest granted in South Carolina this year.

According to City Manager Mel Pearson the LWCF, which requires a grant match, will help fund a $1.3 million Phase I transformation of the City’s former aerated wastewater lagoon into a 24-acre environmental park. Not only would the park provide the City’s sole public access point to the Wateree River, it also represents the City’s first point of public access to the river in modern times.

“During the City’s FY 2018-19 budget process last spring, City Council allocated $800,000 as a grant match for the creation of the environmental park with the intent to seek additional grant funding for the project,” said Pearson. “We are very proud and excited to be the recipient of this conservation grant funding, which will enable us to bring to reality Council’s vision for having a natural riverfront park that offers resident and visitors exposure to wildlife, access to riverfront recreation, and environmental education.”

The City’s LWCF grant will be administered through the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT). According to Amy Blinson, Grant Programs Manager for SCPRT, Camden’s plan provides close-to-home recreational opportunities for everyone. 

“SCPRT is pleased to award the City of Camden a Land & Water Conservation Fund grant to help develop the new Wateree Riverfront Environmental Park.  This project will demonstrate how a community can provide creative outdoor recreational opportunities for its citizens by redeveloping a former utility site into a public park with restored wildlife habitat and access to the Wateree River.”

Pearson said the City teamed up with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program to envision the park as an outdoor education center incorporating conservation, environmental education resources, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.

The use and design of the park is a direct result of extensive public input gathered via public meetings and planning charrettes. Along with local residents, representatives of the county Water and Soil District, local historical societies, City Planning Commission, Council members and City staff have also been involved. A multi-phase project, the park will include a canoe/kayak launch with separate ADA compliant launch, observation areas, bridges, and trails which will ultimately connect to a county-wide trail system linking other area parks and trails.

“If all goes to plan,” says Pearson, “we expect Phase I of the park to be completed within 12 months.”