A walk in the (Beidler) park

Beidler Forest is home to numerous ancient trees, including this bald cypress that is thought to be more than 1,000 years old.

A cypress tree can’t survive 1,000 years just anywhere. One hundred forty species of birds, 50 species of reptiles and 40 species of amphibians rarely live in the same place. And even more rarely can people see those special parts of nature first-hand.

But that’s what happens in the Beidler Forest, heart of Four Holes Swamp near Harleyville. For almost 40 years, visitors have been able to move quietly through the 1,800-acre virgin cypress and tupelo gum blackwater swamp on a mile-long boardwalk, and experience another world.

MeadWestvaco Corp. recently announced a gift to the Beidler Forest that will go a long way to ensuring those experiences can continue. It gave $100,000 toward replacing the boardwalk which is showing its age. In doing so, the company hopes to inspire other companies in the region to support the effort. We hope so, too.

The existing boardwalk was a challenge to build. It was designed to provide access to an area that is amazing because of the very fact that it had not been accessed by developers and others. It gives people a peek without disturbing the essence of the place.

To replace the boardwalk will take years and will cost $1.7 million. A fund-raising campaign, thanks to MeadWestvaco, has passed its half-way mark.

Norman L. Bruns-wig, executive director of the Audubon sanctuary, says the new boardwalk will be wider to allow people in wheelchairs to pass each other. It will be built to last 50 years.

Beidler Forest presents an extraordinary opportunity to hear the same bird, bug and breeze sounds and see the same turtles and frogs, flora and fauna that would have graced the area hundreds of years ago.

Mr. Brunswig and the National Audubon Society perform a tremendous service to the region by tending to this virgin swamp and educating visitors about the ecosystem and why it is important. Helping them get the money they need to construct a new boardwalk would be a way to continue that good work.