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WINTER COLUMN: Berkeley County to study dredging at Bushy Park

Boaters launching at Bushy Park Landing can head into the pristine, freshwater environment of the Bushy Park Reservoir (left) or into the salt marsh of the Cooper River.

Bushy Park Landing is an interesting spot, one of those places people always hear about but usually don't have a clue how to find.

The landing, hidden from the masses at the confluence of fresh and saltwater on the Cooper River, straddles County Road 503 north of the Naval Weapons Station and east of Goose Creek.

Bushy Park has boat ramps on either side of the road's causeway. One ramp provides access to the Cooper River just above the official salt/fresh water dividing line.

The other ramp angles into the Bushy Park reservoir, which is fed by Fosters Creek and the Back River. This beautiful body of water supplies Charleston Water System with its majority of fresh water for residents.

Put in at this freshwater ramp and you'll be gliding through dark, deep, clean and fresh water inhabited by largemouth bass, catfish and alligators.

The shore will be lined above with lush vegetation and wading birds, and below with vast mats of hyper-green hydrilla.

Put in on the “saltwater side” and you'll notice familiar coastal sights and smells, namely marsh grass and pluff mud.

The water on this side isn't particularly clean. In fact, it seems at times to be not exactly water and not exactly mud — something in between.

Whatever it is, you probably won't be gliding through it, unless you're in a canoe, kayak or seriously shallow-drafting motorboat.

If you're in a john boat, bass boat or center console, you'll most likely be plowing ahead as your trimmed-up outboard motor spews a jet of watery mud from the prop.

For years, silt has been filling in the channel leading from the landing to the main body of the Cooper River. It's become a notoriously difficult landing to use, at least on the Cooper River side.

But efforts are now under way to get a handle on the problem. Just don't expect a quick fix.

Berkeley County officials plan to fund a feasibility study this year that would lay out the best options for dredging at Bushy Park.

“It's a problem, and a lot of people recognize that,” County engineer Frank Carson said Friday. “There's just not an easy solution for it. This is the first step and will give us a path forward.”

The biggest challenge, Carson said, seems to be determining how the county would dispose of dredge material. The study, he said, should establish options and cost estimates.

Planning, permitting, securing funding and doing the actual work could push a solution out another year or two.

Turkey tickets

The Swamp Fox Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation recently booked outdoors television host Michael Waddell for an appearance at its 2013 banquet.

Wayne Grace Sr. of the Swamp Fox Chapter said tickets will likely sell out fast for the March 2 event, which usually draws about 800 people to the Ladson Fairgrounds.

The long-running banquet is one of the federation's top events nationwide, Grace said, and features a barbecue, door prizes and gun raffles.

“When people come to our banquet, they come back,” he said. “We've got people coming from four states.”

The banquet raises money to support the national conservation organization and local turkey hunting projects.

Tickets are $60 each and can be purchased by calling 843-834-7779 or 843-209-0770.

Reach Matt Winter at or 937-5568.

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