Waccamaw River paddle trail planned
GEORGETOWN, SC — A group in North Carolina has joined an effort to create a 150-mile paddle trail running the length of the Waccamaw River.
Plans are now going forward to fund the northern section of the trail to help promote the river and educate people about its resources and history.
Christine Ellis, who’s job it is to protect and promote the river, is leading the effort for the paddle trail, called the Waccamaw Blue Trail.
When complete it will run from Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina to Winyah Bay in Georgetown.
Ellis, who’s title is Waccamaw River Keeper, said the paddle trail will be marked with signs and it will be promoted throughout the state and country.
Places where paddlers can enter the river will be improved and added, she said.
About 100 miles of the paddle trail will be in South Carolina.
That portion is mostly funded, but Ellis said any contributions would be appreciated.
Ellis said some people have expressed concerns that the trail may limit hunting and fishing in the river, but that is not the case.
“We want to promote recreation on the river and educate people about its natural, historical and cultural resources,” she said.
“We want more people to use the river, not less, and hunting and fishing are part of our culture, so we would like to include that in our uses.”
Ellis is partnering with American Rivers and the Pee Dee Land Trust to complete the South Carolina portion.
The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation is funding most of the three-year South Carolina project launched in 2009, Ellis said.
But the North Carolina section is still in the planning phase and in need of funding.
North Carolina section
Jennifer Holcomb, director of tourism for Columbus County, N.C., said the northern 50 miles of the trail would mirror some of the initiatives of the southern portion.
“The next step is planning, sitting down with maps and criteria for amenities along the river,” Holcomb said. “Those amenities will some day include stores and outfitters to support paddlers, and places to buy lunch and supplies.”
She said organizers of the trail welcome public input and they have already held three public meetings seeking ideas.
“The Waccamaw River is gorgeous,” Holcomb said. “It is a very unique body of water that is attractive to paddlers.”
Ellis said when complete, the Waccamaw Blue Trail will be a great thing.
“I think if this all works out, it will be great to have an opportunity to get in at Lake Waccamaw and paddle all the way down to Winyah Bay,” Ellis said.
For more information about the trail, or to make a donation, call Holcomb at 910-540-2818, or Ellis at 843-349-4007.
By Clayton Stairs
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