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Find out what's happening on the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests in South Carolina!

Text of SCNFS Destination Guide


    South Carolinas

    A Destination Guide

    U.S. Department of AgricultureForest Service Southern RegionDec. 2012 R8-RG-465

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


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  • Where are South Carolinas National Forests?

    I f the mountains are calling, then youll want to venture to the Andrew Pickens (AP) Ranger District. If its the lure of salt marshes and the coast you prefer, then the Francis Marion (FM) Ranger District is for you. If you want the option of two piedmont ranger districts either an hours drive northwest or west of the state capital then the Enoree (EN) and Long Cane (LC) are ideal. Whichever district you choose, these public lands provide some of the states greatest economic, environmental, historic and social assets.

    the mountains to the coast the Andrew Pickens, Enoree, Long Cane, which make up the Sumter National Forest, and the Francis Marion.

    Whether you want to hike or ride a trail; hunt, fish, paddle or play in one of our rivers or lakes; camp, bird-watch or relax at one of our recreation areas; or learn at one of our interpretive sites, South Carolinas national forests have something special waiting for you.

    Officially proclaimed in 1936, the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests cover almost 630,000 acres across the palmetto state of South Carolina.

    The U.S. Forest Service restores and maintains these lands for multiple uses including watershed improvement and protection, timber and wood production, wildlife and fish habitat,

    cultural resource protection and interpretation, wilderness area management and recreation.

    South Carolinas national forests provide a diverse set of outdoor opportunities on four ranger districts from

    est. 1936WELCOME TOSouthCarolinas

    South Carolinas National Forests A Destination Guide 1

  • What is a National Forest?

    O ver the years, people have changed what they want and need from national forests. When Congress established the U.S. Forest Service in 1905, forests were designed to provide quality water and timber for the nations benefit. Today, the agency manages national forests for multiple uses, as well as for sustainable, renewable resources such as clean water, wildlife and timber. Management efforts also focus on conserving resources, restoring ecosystems and protecting cultural resources. In the Southeast,

    prescribed fire is an important toolit reduces unwanted vegetation to prevent wildfires and create healthy habitat. Many southeastern forests are fire adaptive ecosystems, which means they need periodic fire to thrive.

    National forests are also Americas great outdoors 193 million acres provide recreation opportunities from coast to coast. With more people moving to urban areas, national forests are becoming

    increasingly important, relevant and valuable to people across the country and around

    the world.

    Paddlers take in natures sights and sounds on Wambaw Creek on the Francis Marion Ranger District.

    Riding is fun and educational in South Carolinas national forests.

    Fall colors come alive between late September and mid - October on the Andrew Pickens Ranger District.

    Hunting is just one of the many activities you can in enjoy in South Carolinas national forests.

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  • T he lands that make up South Carolinas national forests have a long and colorful history.

    Native Americans inhabited the state at least 12,000 years ago. Even today a 4,000-year-old shell ring created by prehistoric Indians remains as a monument to an early culture on South Carolinas coast. Many tribes hunted, gathered food and farmed across the state. Revolutionary War soldiers splashed through South Carolinas swamps to attack British supply lines. Early colonists settled along streams, toiled in the fields and built family-owned companies to harvest timber. They built railroads and tunnels, while others mined gold all before the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests were created.

    The U.S. Bureau of Forestry a predecessor of the U.S. Forest Service first sent a field party to evaluate lands in South Carolina in 1901. Congress passed the Weeks Act in 1911, which allowed the federal government to purchase private lands

    to provide clean water, restore forests and reduce catastrophic wildfires. Then came World War I and demand for timber skyrocketed. Across the South, deforestation increased and land deteriorated. By the 1920s, much of the Southern Pine Belt was cutover.

    In 1928, the National Forest Reservation Commission approved the purchase of two units in South Carolina. It was not until the Great Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelts New Deal that the creation of national forests began in earnest. In July 1936, the Francis Marion and Sumter were officially proclaimed national forests.

    Early on, national forests were called the lands nobody wanted. In South Carolina, these lands were predominantly eroded old farm fields and gullies or extensively cutover forests. National forests were created to retire the farmlands, control soil erosion, regulate stream flow and produce timber. With the early work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the land was slowly restored and became productive once more.

    Today, the Francis Marion and Sumter are a testament to the success of responsible land management. More than a million people visit these forests each year to hike or ride trails, fish, hunt, camp, learn, take pictures or have a picnic.

    They may even make a little history.

    A Tale of Two Forests

    A CCC enrollee plants seedlings as part of the reforestation program carried out by the Corps.

    A truck hauls logs from the forest to the mill.

    Workers buck trees into logs in the early 1900s in the Southeast.

    South Carolinas National Forests A Destination Guide 3

  • Packing appropriate safety gear will help make any trip to your national forest a roundtrip.

    Always travel in groups of two or more when visiting your national forest.

    N ow that you know a little about South Carolinas national forests, youre ready to explore them. A few tools you might need are maps, basic rules, permit requirements, passes and safety gear. Some information varies by district so please visit for details.

    H ere are a few safety tips for the next trip to your national forest. Have fun. Be aware. Stay safe. Prepare for your trip. Travel with a buddy. Watch the weather. Carry clean water. Tell somebody your plans. Bring a first aid kit. Call 911 in an emergency. Dont get lost. Buy a map. Know your physical limitations. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Bring plenty of food and water.

    Explore Your National Forests Safely

    4 South Carolinas National Forests A Destination Guide

  • A bout 20 minutes north of Charleston, the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center provides information and environmental education to introduce visitors to the cultural heritage and natural history of South Carolinas lowcountry. Jointly operated by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this 9,000-square-foot facility features hands-on interpretive displays exploring the unique ecosystems of the Francis Marion National Forest and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. It offers classes, field trips and events for children and adults, freshwater ponds for fishing and nature study, a mile-long loop trail and a butterfly garden. Visit the Center at 5821 Highway 17 North in Awendaw, S.C. For information, call (843) 928-3368 or TDD (843) 928-3833 or visit other partnerships, South Carolinas national forests provide educational opportunities such as Wood Magic Forest Fair and Project Learning Tree. Other agencies, private organizations and volunteers help support fishing rodeos, river and forest clean ups, hunting events for youth, adults and people with disabilities, as well as national outdoor events.

    Discover the Forests, Find Some Fun

    Learning is fun (right) and a great way to make new friends (below) at the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center.

    Visiting with Smokey Bear (left) and fishing on National Fishing Day (below) are fun ways to learn from your national forest.

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  • T he U.S. Forest Service offers explorers a variety of passes and permits some are free while others cost money. Passes allow visitors to enter some fee areas without additional charges.

    Visitors must pay fees and obtain recreation permits at all motorized trails and at some campgrounds. When camping in other areas and floating on the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River, visitors need a free permit. Visit for permit requirements on each ranger district.

    The U.S. Forest Service uses funds from passes, permits and other fees to repair trails and campgrounds where the funds were collected, remove litter and improve forest health.

    Sport anglers and hunters in South Carolina must get state licenses from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Visit

    Why the Rules?

    F ollowing the rules can help keep the water clean, protect plants, animals and the natural scenery and take care of the national forests for our children and their grandchildren.

    Learn the Rules, Remember to Live by Them

    If you dont know the rules, please talk to someone who does.

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