Lake Moultrie and the Francis Marion National Forest make up about 40 percent of Berkeley County’s 1,229 square miles.
Now some county officials want to capitalize on that to make Berkeley the outdoor recreation destination for the entire state, with the tagline “Find your Adventure in Berkeley County.”
Scott Lynch of the company Blaze has spent two years working on the project with the Berkeley Soil and Water Commission.
“Even though I think Berkeley County has as much, if not more, history as Charleston, we are in a unique position with the natural resources in Berkeley County, and with the potential of this information, to position ourselves as South Carolina's outdoor paradise,” he said.
“I believe we can create a destination spot where people are coming to Berkeley County for their vacations,” he added.
Conservation districts are tasked with promoting responsible use of natural resources by the development of programs to protect and conserve soil, water, farmland, woodland, wildlife, energy and river bank and wetland resources.
The project aims to create one-stop website or portal called Berkeley Outdoor Life where families and hardcore outdoorsmen can find information on destinations to hike, bike or paddle throughout the county.
Last year, with a $22,500 grant from the county’s accommodations tax commission, the Berkeley Blueways project was completed. It identifies 23 kayaking trails covering 175 miles in the county.
“We believe this is now the standard for outdoor recreation information, and we would stack this up against anything in the United States,” Lynch said.
Like the Blueways website, the new site would allow people to choose options that will lead to a recommendation with interactive maps and directions. Visitors can also download the entire guidebook.
“I’ve kayaked and whitewater rafted all over this country,” said Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee Chairman Jim Rozier. “I’ve never seen anything like this before anywhere I’ve been.”
The commission is hoping to secure a $85,000 grant from the county’s accommodations tax to complete the project.
“We have identified 16 to 18 bikeways and 16 to 20 walkways and we know there are more out there,” Lynch said.
Plans call for creating a Berkeley Outdoor Life website as an umbrella over the waterways and trails. Local businesses such as hotels, campgrounds, restaurants and gas stations will be linked in to help travelers have everything they need at their fingertips.
Brochures will be distributed through welcome centers and visitor kiosks throughout the state and the program will have a strong presence on social media, Lynch said. Visitors will also be able to call and speak to a person for advice on local outdoor adventures.
“This has the potential to make a difference for Berkeley County,” Lynch said.