The Green Issue is dead! Long live the Green Issue!
For years, Free Times has faithfully produced an annual Green Issue to coincide with Earth Day. In this annual issue, we’ve covered everything from how you can save energy to how climate change is affecting South Carolina’s beaches and natural resources. We’ve covered local environmental groups; highlighted green-minded events; profiled local environmental leaders; documented our local environmental treasures; and much more.
This year, we decided to take a slightly different — but, we believe, equally valid — approach. Instead of trying to take on multiple environmental challenges in one cover package, we’ve focused on one specific local environmental treasure: our city’s rivers.
The Broad, Congaree and Saluda rivers are enormous assets to Columbia — environmentally, economically and recreationally. But too often, they don’t get the attention they deserve. Two years after politicians started promising a new public access point on the Lower Saluda, the area remains closed to the general public. Despite the importance of our rivers, local governments and businesses continue to pollute them. Meanwhile, development of the Three Rivers Greenway has proceeded in fits and starts — especially on the Columbia side of the Congaree.
Still, there has been progress along the rivers — and more developments are on the horizon.
Among the good news in the past year is that the Timmerman Trail has opened in Cayce, and the Coble Plaza opened behind EdVenture Children’s Museum.
Within a matter of months, revenue from the Richland County penny tax could start funding construction of the Saluda River Greenway, a major project that will address some of the public’s concerns about access. Conservation easements are protecting much of the land in the Cowasee Basin, which lies downstream along the Congaree, Wateree and Santee rivers. And in Cayce, momentum is slowly building toward a 12,000-year history park that has long been discussed.
In short, Columbia, there’s a lot happening on your rivers. Read on to learn more. — Dan Cook
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