City Opens Camden Riverfront Environmental Park
The City of Camden is officially opened its new $1.4 million Camden Riverfront Environmental Park at the historic Port of Camden at 174 Bramblewood Plantation Road on September 16th. The ribbon cutting included City and State officials who were integral in the project's completion. The new riverfront eco-tourism attraction is the result after the closure and remediation of a wastewater lagoon on the Wateree River opened up conservation and recreation opportunities for the public.
For the first time in more than a decade, the public now has recreational access to the Wateree River in Camden. Like Columbia, West Columbia and Greenville, when those city’s opened up public riverfront access, Camden is entering a new phase of history for this once bustling riverfront. The site has been expanded from the original 16.5 acres to 26 acres and features an interior half-mile meandering waterway which hosts fish and improves bird habitats. Around the waterway is a near one mile trail which links to future phases of the Kershaw County Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenways Plan. A major park feature is a riverfront canoe and kayak launch.
With the project cost of $1.4 million, the park is a less expensive option for the site than the estimated $3 million cost of filling in the lagoon for abandonment. The National Park Service’s River, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program provided a technical assistance grant to help decide the best use for the lagoon through public input meetings. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources provided $100,000 for the canoe and kayak launch. A Land Water and Conservation Fund grant provided $500,000 to the project, which was administered by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The city budgeted the remaining $800,000.
A multi-phase project, the environmental park currently includes a riverside 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. Other distinguishing features include a meandering kayak lagoon with waterfall, a 0.9 mile natural surface trail, and demonstration islands for agricultural and wildlife education.
Future phases of the park’s development will include boardwalks connecting to the lagoon’s Duck Head Island and covered observation platforms, as well as additional educational amenities.
The Camden Riverfront Environmental Park is now open to the public during daylight hours. Due to current COVID-19 conditions, social gatherings are prohibited and all visitors to the park are required to maintain a social distance of at least six feet, unless members of the same family, and wear face coverings in compliance with the City of Camden's emergency ordinance.