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Take a free canoe tour to discover Columbia area wetlands

The State

To celebrate American Wetlands Month, the Carolinas Wetlands Association is offer offering tours of what it dubs the 2017 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas.

On that list is Congaree National Park.

VIDEO: Synchronized fireflies at Congaree National Park

The canoe tour of Congaree, one of the Carolinas’ two Wetlands of International Importance, will be Saturday, May 6.

Encompassing more than 26,000 acres of mostly floodplain forest, Congaree features the largest expanse of Southern old-growth bottomland forest remaining in the United States. This dynamic floodplain ecosystem is sustained by flows from the Congaree River, which forms the park’s southern border, and Cedar Creek, which flows through the park.

The canoe tour will be on Cedar Creek, with Congaree National Park rangers and interpretive staff. Canoes will be provided free by the National Park Service.

If you miss this tour, there are other opportunities to take a guided canoe trip at Congaree. Park rangers offer free guided excursions along Cedar Creek at 9 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through mid-June.

These tours require reservations, and they fill up fast, said Scott Teodorski, chief of interpretation and public information officer at Congaree.

But there is another option.

Park rangers also offer walk-up canoe tours from 12:30-3 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through mid-June.

“These are short, introduction tours,” Teodorski said. “It gives people a chance to get on the water. Gives them a taste.”

If you go

Canoe tours of 2017 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas

WHEN: 1-3 p.m. Saturday, May 6

WHERE: Congaree National Park, 100 National Park Road, Hopkins

WORTH NOTING: Canoes are provided. All participants must be able to swim without the aid of a flotation device. Each canoe must have one participant who has prior experience paddling canoes or kayaks. Children 6 and older are permitted when accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. Twelve participants per tour.

OTHER TOURS: If you can’t make this one, other tour options are offered through mid-June.

INFO: www.nps.gov/cong; (803) 776-4396. Or email reservations to the trip coordinator at laura.england@carolinawetlands.org.

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