Bill Stangler is the Congaree Riverkeeper, which means he serves as an on-the-water watchdog for the Midlands’ rivers and streams. He knows these waterways well and appreciates them as much as anyone.
The great thing about paddling around the Midlands is that we have so many options to fit whatever you're looking for, from the seclusion and serenity of Cedar Creek or Bates Old River at Congaree National Park to the adrenaline pumping excitement of the Lower Saluda at high water. But, if I had to choose one place, it would be the confluence (where the Broad and Saluda rivers come together). You get to experience all three rivers, assuming you take a few detours to explore, and if you're lucky you can see spider lilies and bald eagles, run a few rapids, and maybe even catch a trophy fish (trout, smallmouth or striper).
Again, there are so many choices, but my all-time favorite wildlife to see on the water are river otters, even when they wake me up by splashing water on me while I'm camping on a sandbar.
The biggest concern for the future health of our rivers are domestic wastewater issues. This includes the city of Columbia's ongoing sewer spills as well as the numerous smaller wastewater treatment plants that regularly violate their discharge permits. Bringing all of these wastewater providers into compliance with the law is the most important thing we can do to protect our rivers and help realize their true potential for our community.