Over the last 15+ years the County has protected the important ecological, historic, and cultural resources of Beaufort County through the Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program. The majority of the properties weren’t purchased specifically as parks, many can be opened up to public use and allow the important values of those properties to remain protected.
Several parks are already underway, including Crystal Lake Park (Lady’s Island), Fort Fremont (St. Helena Island), and the Okatie Regional Preserve (Bluffton). These all stand to become exemplary examples of what parks in Beaufort County can offer to the citizens of the County and visitors.
Obtaining community input is an important step in the process. Clemson University’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management and Strom Thurmond Institute conducted a community survey. The survey response rate was commendable.
This report demonstrates key relationships between the community and passive parks. The survey report also indicates a strong directive to uphold the natural or cultural values of conservation lands, still leaving ample opportunity for complimentary activities that do not diminish the property’s conservation values or the mission and purpose of the Program.
Some highlights from the report include:
- 97% identified a positive impact on their overall quality of life from conserved lands, confirming the public’s commitment to the preservation of important natural and conservation areas.
- 86% believe conservation lands should be more publicly accessible. At the same time, a clear majority, 93%, believe continued protection of those lands is important if they are made accessible.
- 1% believe that conservation lands contribute a great deal to the County’s economic prosperity.
- Top activities include nature-based activities, with a focus on enjoying view sheds, wildlife, and hiking. Also, activities such as fishing, running, kayaking and biking were also preferred but to a slightly lesser extent.
- Over 83% of respondents are willing to travel over 3 miles to visit a passive park and over 57% would travel 6 miles or more to visit one of the County’s passive parks.
- The survey showed the desire to emphasize the basic needs of users, with access to bathroom facilities, hiking trails and trash cans while a community garden and rental cabins were of the least interest.
- Approximately 47% of responses chose sales or property taxes and 32.4% identified user fees as a potential funding source.
- Over 50% of respondents said they would pay between $1 and $4 in user fees per passive park visit. Approximately 12% will pay $5 or more.
Beaufort County Park Survey Executive Summary
View and Download a copy of the report