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Cowasee Basin Focus Area

John Cely | E-Mail | Updated 03-04-2012

What is the COWASEE Basin?

Cowasee Basin Map

COWASEE Basin Map- click for larger image

COWASEE is short for the Congaree/Wateree/Upper Santee River system. The focus area contains about 215,000 acres. The zone stretches north to south following the Wateree River starting from I-20 in Kershaw South Carolina and terminates near the railroad trestle at Upper Lake Marion between Rimini and Lone Star. The focus area also includes the section of the Congaree River from its intersection with I-77 then south to where it merges with the Wateree. Most of the focus area consist of bottomland hardwood forests within the Congaree, Wateree, and Upper Santee River floodplains. In addition, the focus area also includes the river bluffs, high hills, and uplands that border these low lying areas.

Approximately 32% of the COWASEE Basin consists of state and federal lands including, the Congaree National Park, Sparkleberry Swamp, Congaree Bluffs Heritage Preserve, Poinsett State Park, and Manchester State Forest. The bottomland hardwood forests that make up much of the basin are some of the most productive and valuable wildlife habitat in North America. The basin also provides outstanding aquatic resources and watershed protection.

The wetlands and waterways of the COWASEE have long been known to sportsmen as providing unparalleled hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. Naturalists, birders, photographers, hikers, and canoeists have also discovered the wonderful attributes of the area. Canoeing and kayaking has become very popular at Sparkleberry Swamp and within the Congaree National Park.

See http://www.cowasee.org/pdf/Cowaseespring2010.pdf for expanded information about the COWASEE Basin.

Based on the most successful ACE Basin focus area, the goal is to protect this valuable resource through land acquisition and conservation easements so that future generations will continue to be able to enjoy the unspoiled recreational opportunities while also providing important wildlife habitat.

As per the web page http://www.cowasee.org/conserve.html# :

"A conservation easement is a written legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization or public agency that contains restrictions relating to various uses of the land.

Conservation easements are tailored to characteristics of a particular property as well as the owner's financial needs and conservation goals. They may be put on entire parcels, or only portions of a parcel and can restrict as much or as little development as desired.

Because properties having conservation easements remain privately owned, they offer an excellent opportunity for those with a passion for their land to leave a perpetual legacy of their conservation values while honoring traditional land uses such as agriculture, forestry, and wildlife management. Conservation easements may offer significant federal and state income tax and estate tax advantages."

Relict Trillium

Painted Bunting, Sparkleberry Swamp Landing Road - Joe Kegley

COWASEE Basin Book.

Note: The book has been published and the organization is no longer looking for images. You may purchase a copy at the Congaree National Park visitor center.

For more information about the book contact Billy Cate at billy@congareelt.org or John Cely at johncely@congareelt.org.

Outdated information - The last 15 years or so has seen a spate of very nice coffee table books celebrating South Carolina's incredible beauty and natural resources. These books have focused on either the coast or the mountains but we believe that the scenery, wildlife, cultural and historic resources of the COWASEE Basin are second to none. With this in mind, the Congaree Land Trust has embarked on putting together a coffee table book on the COWASEE Basin. We are in the process of obtaining sponsors to publish the book. We are also very interested in having donated photography. All profits from the book will go to the Congaree Land Trust for its COWASEE Basin efforts.

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