WHITMIRE — The Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests invites the public to attend the first in a series of conversations with local communities, partners, government agencies and forest visitors to determine the best way to balance public demands with sustainable recreation opportunities.
The Enoree Ranger District, which offers recreation experiences on more than 170,000 acres in Newberry, Union, Chester, Laurens and Fairfield counties, hosts its first open house meetings on June 29 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Please join us at the Enoree Ranger District, 20 Work Center Road, Whitmire, SC, 29178.
Here’s what it’s all about. Visitor use monitoring surveys on both of South Carolina’s national forests yielded interesting results:
• 30% of visitors enjoy developed recreation facilities such as campsites, picnic areas and shooting ranges
• 70% of visitors enjoy dispersed recreation, such as trail hiking, biking, OHV and horse riding, hunting and fishing.
“This is a great opportunity for our visitors to help sculpt the future of recreation on the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests,” said Enoree District Ranger Mary Maercklein. “Our goal is to develop the opportunities that match the interests of our visitors.”
The Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests provide 96 developed recreation sites, 572 miles of hiking, equestrian, off-highway vehicle, biking and water trails, and vast opportunities for hunting, fishing, and enjoying spectacular scenery. As well-loved, as they are by all visiting recreationists, increasing population growth and changing recreation demands make it difficult for the agency to sustain existing opportunities. Despite a track record of highly successful partnerships, leveraging of external resources and a growing team of dedicated volunteers, the agency’s time and money are spent on developed site facilities that have very low use while the demand is for dispersed recreation programs such as trails.
Although the Forest Service has invested millions of dollars in recreation, it can no longer afford to finance aging facilities, poorly designed trails, and underused picnic areas, campsites and other recreation areas. Even if budgets did increase, it would be unrealistic to expect any public land manager to meet the desires of all users in all locations.
So those are the topics we wish to discuss with you and we look forward visiting with you about your favorite areas on the Enoree Ranger District!
To learn more about the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests visit www.fs.usda.gov/scnfs,“like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scnfs or contact Joe Robles, FMS outdoor recreation manager at 803-561-4067.