South Carolina cities are discovering that people like having access to their rivers and cities are making that access easier.
From the Three Rivers Greenway in Columbia to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville or River Park in Rock Hill, as use and popularity of the trails grow, so does the potential for connectivity.
“The river has always been there but access to the river has been not that great,” said South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Coordinator David Lucas, explaining the growth in accessibility of the Catawba River in Rock Hill and the Olde English District.
“The Catawba River runs right through the heart of that region,” he said. “It’s an important resource for the region in a lot of ways.”
“It’s only been fairly recently, within the last decade or so, that for local governments in particular are really getting into the business of greenways, trails, along the river. And that’s what they’ve done in Rock Hill with this trail that connects River Park downstream from the Highway 21 bridge,” he said. “It’s just a really nice amenity.”
In addition to riverside trails, the City of Rock Hill has put in areas where canoes and kayaks can be launched.
“Not only is it an amenity that allows people to get out and see the river and even get on the river in the case of kayakers, but it’s also, a lot of communities are using this as part of a connected transportation plan because you can bicycle from one part of the region to the other,” he said.
And when people want to live near a greenway, developers try to accommodate them.
“Tremendous amount of building that’s going on,” Lucas said. “New apartment buildings. New homes. Some retail and restaurants and other businesses in the ground floors of those things. People want to live there. People want to be next to the river and have that access out of their back door.”
Lucas says accessibility also encourages people to preserve the properties.
“People that are able to get to these areas and either hike or just experience them, they have a vested interest in conserving those natural resources. I think that comes into play when you have urban areas like the Three Rivers Greenway in Columbia or this trail in Rock Hill,” he said. “The more you can get people out on those properties and seeing what they’re all about and seeing what’s there, that’s how you’re going to get citizens that are interested in protecting the natural resources of South Carolina.”
“The natural resources of South Carolina is a hugely valuable thing that we have,” said Lucas.
Lucas writes a travel blog for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Click here for a link.