FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Florence County announced Monday a $68,200 grant from Duke Energy to improve regional waterways for boaters and kayakers. Florence County Director of Parks and Recreation Ronnie Pridgen said restoring waterways will help improve the quality of life for locals and tourists.
Florence County is one of 16 organizations across North and South Carolina to collectively receive more than $1.2 million in the seventh grant announcement from Duke Energy.
The grant will cover the removal of trees and debris currently blocking the main waterways. The clean up will stretch 40 to 45 miles from the Kayak area in Lynches River County Park, Lynches River north end to Snow Lake Landing and Indigo Landing to Venters Landing in Johnsonville.
Pridgen said in the past years, vendors in some of these areas have not been able to rent out kayaks because of the damage and debris blocking parts of the waterways.
"This will help us as well as those other vendors that use the river for this. You know we have different people come in, we've got the Revolutionary War River and you know we just hope that it's going to benefit and bring people in to Florence County and spend money," Pridgen said.
Scott MacGillivray is a park ranger at Lynches River County Park and said the river has a lot of damage from hurricanes sweeping through the area and the 1,000 year flood in 2015.
"We have a lot of down trees. We have a lot of back up brush as you can see behind me that's clogging up the river," MacGillivray said.
MacGillivray is one of two certified kayak instructors at the park. He said the river trail is a favorite among kayakers because it's narrow, but the condition of the river is not ideal for beginners.
"We're having to worry about them flipping or getting hurt or running into a tree and it's just a very hazardous environment right now," MacGillivray said.
The Duke Energy grant will fund the removal of overlaying and fallen trees along with other debris from the river. MacGillivray says the park team tried removing some of the debris themselves, but they need more help.
"Some of this stuff is just to big for our resources and we needed a bigger resource to come and actually take care what needs to be taken care of," MacGillivray said.
With the help from Duke Energy, MacGillivray says enhancing the waterways will allow locals and tourists to better experience the beauty of the outdoors.
"We think this is a phenomenal idea, a phenomenal thing and again like I said just keeping everything safe instead of just putting people and hoping they're going to be okay," MacGillivray said.
County officials expect debris to start being removed within the next 90 days.