Letters to the Editor

Help save national parks from the chopping block

Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park The State file photo

Midlands citizens are fortunate to have Congaree National Park in our collective “backyard.” It has an amazing variety of birds and woods to enjoy for short or long hikes all year, or enjoy for just an hour at the unique Visitor Center.

Columbia-area leaders began the effort to advocate for protection of the old growth in this unique floodplain in the ’50s. Sens. Hollings and Thurmond introduced legislation in the ’70s to set aside the park as a national monument. The area became a national park in 2003. With healthy ecosystems like our national parks, plants, animals and biodiversity, people all benefit.

Congaree National Park is the biggest and best local example of the critical role national parks can make in protecting our special outdoor treasures. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has protected millions of acres in all 50 states over decades and is now on the chopping block. Please write your U.S. senators and congressman a short note and tell them we appreciate our parks, and do not want to allow the LWCF to expire.

Suzanne Rhodes


DHEC should back program to manage groundwater

Are you a groundwater consumer?

Groundwater exists in underground sand layers. Man-made boundaries do not control groundwater movement or availability. Groundwater is used for drinking, irrigation, and industrial applications. Overuse can cause groundwater levels to decline.

Historically, groundwater in this region has been plentiful. But, as demand grows, we see a long-term trend of decreasing groundwater supplies.

Studies by our state’s science agencies show seasonal variations and man-made effects on groundwater supply – warning that we may be using groundwater faster than it can be replaced.

In response, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) recommends a Capacity Use program to manage groundwater resources in Lexington and six surrounding counties (Western Capacity Use Area). This strategy has been successful in coastal regions for decades, allowing SCDHEC to collaborate with groundwater users who use more than 3 million gallons monthly.

A program like the Western Capacity Use Area will help manage a limited resource in a way that ensures long-term groundwater supplies for ALL users. The science is clear – we need this program. The SCDHEC board votes on Nov. 8 on this program. For our sake, they must vote to implement the Western Capacity Use Area.

Laura Bagwell


SC shouldn’t place restrictions on good conservation

I am a proud American and a proud hunter. I treasure the days when I am able to spend time in South Carolina’s great outdoors enjoying our natural resources. I am lucky to call this state home.

Access to natural, undeveloped land is taken for granted in this part of the country. Unfortunately, more and more land is lost to development at the troubling rate of nearly 6,000 acres a day. Should this trend continue, it is not just hunters that will suffer – everyone from hikers to history buffs will be negatively impacted.

Fortunately, conservation easements – voluntary and legally-binding agreements that limit the future development of lands forever – provide an alternative. In some cases, the terms of an easement allow for hunting on an easement property. Legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate would place restrictions on certain types of easement donations made by partnerships formed between unrelated persons who own property that is suitable for conservation. These conservation partnerships enable more people to protect more land. I urge South Carolina’s congressional representatives to protect outdoor recreation by not placing restrictions on good conservation.

Doug Saunders


The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.