Emma Gerald Boyer, Land Officer for Winyah Rivers
Rocky Point is coming back to life. Local residents of Choppee, South Carolina and the surrounding area remember a vibrant past at Rocky Point. A popular hangout for locals, Rocky Point once provided a great gathering place for Fourth of July picnics, afternoons jumping into the Black River from a rope swing on the bluff, sunning on the river’s small sandy beaches, and launching boats for a day on the to fish or paddle on the river or on Choppee Creek. By the end of the summer, locals will once again be able to experience these activities at the new Rocky Point Community Forest.
After five long years, Rocky Point is nearly ready to reopen to the public. The valuable piece of river frontage and forest was secured for conservation as a Community Forest. Thanks to Winyah Rivers Foundation, Georgetown County Parks and Recreation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Open Space Institute and the generous support of the North American Wetland Conservation Act program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the South Carolina Conservation Bank, the Duke Water Resources Fund, the Carolina Bird Club, and the Butler Conservation Fund, Rocky Point Community Forest provides and protects 650+ acres and 1.8 miles of river and creek front for passive recreation and education.
Fishing at Rocky Point, credit: Emma Boyer
When it was purchased, Rocky Point joined a network of over 12,000+ acres of protected land throughout the Black River Watershed. Since it holds a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Scenic River designation, there is a focus on the conservation of the natural and cultural character of the Black River corridor. In line with this mission, the forests of Rocky Point will be restored and managed sustainably and the wetlands and wildlife will be protected.
Rocky Point Community Forest will provide opportunities for recreation, education, restoration and conservation. At the beginning of the summer, construction began for a paved boat ramp, kayak launch, primitive parking and picnic. A simple trail network will be expanded upon as the project continues to mature. Community members will be able to enjoy the area as they did once before. The first of its kind in the area, the community forest will serve as an outdoor classroom for forestry students, land owners and the general public to further their understanding of the sustainable forestry methods used on site. Restoration of a 200 year old cemetery enhanced the cultural resources of the land in addition to the surrounding forest. Restoration of the forest to longleaf pine where appropriate will help manage and maintain the ecological integrity of the forest. Conserving these lands will protect both the regional ecosystem integrity as well as the services the forests, wetlands and river provide to the public.
The future of the Rocky Point Community Forest is bright with opportunity. Providing a public place for community members to connect with the Black River and the forest is important to preservation of our natural resources. Soon Rocky Point will be alive once more.