One of the leaders of South Carolina’s environmental movement was remembered Monday for his work to protect mountains, rivers and swamps in the Carolinas.
Ted Snyder, 85, died June 29 at his home in Walhalla of apparent natural causes. A memorial service, attended by about 100, was held Monday at a nature preserve in the S.C. mountains.
Snyder sometimes was called the "John Muir of the Southeast,'' a reference to the nationally known conservationist and Sierra Club founder.
One of the original organizers of the Sierra Club in the Carolinas in the 1960s, Snyder later helped protect the Chattooga River from development and the Congaree swamp from logging in the 1970s. He was a lawyer originally from Greenville.
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The Chattooga, in the mountains between South Carolina and Georgia, is South Carolina’s only federally designated wild and scenic river, and the setting for the 1970s movie “Deliverance.’’ The Congaree swamp, near Columbia, now is Congaree National Park, the only national park in South Carolina. It was protected in 1976 as a national monument, attaining park status in 2003.
Sierra Club lobbyist Benton Wislinski said Snyder leaves a “great legacy to conservation in our state and nationwide.’’
Snyder’s former wife, Columbia conservationist Ann Timberlake, said his work to protect the Congaree swamp showed his determination to save what many consider one of the most significant floodplain-wetlands systems in the region.
The 27,000-acre, towering forest once was slated by its owners, the Beidler family, for logging. But in the early 1970s, Timberlake and Snyder visited the Chicago family in an effort to change their minds. The outlook wasn't promising, but Snyder’s calm push to save the forest eventually changed the Beidlers' minds, Timberlake said.
“He was determined, but so civil,’’ she said of Snyder’s demeanor. “He was always well informed. He was passionate, and he was persistent. And he wanted people to enjoy the out of doors.’’
Those attending Monday's memorial service included local politicians, friends and members of conservation groups from South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina, where Snyder had been more active in recent years. In North Carolina, he was credited with stopping a so-called “road to nowhere’’ in the mountains.
Snyder is survived by his and Timberlake's son, Theodore A. Snyder III, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Helena, Mont..; and by two brothers, John and Charles Snyder.