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digital_sandlapper

S.C.'s Most Liveable Counties: Natural Places

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This may be cause for pride or action, depending on the outcome for your favorite South Carolina MSA . . .

I am in a statewide group that takes a field trip every month to a natural area of the state for nature observation. This group has been doing this for 30 years (I have been in for 15), and so has been to every corner of the state, many quite wild and scenic. (Many of the richest sites are visited again and again, of course.) I am compiling a database of the sites the group has been to, and of potential sites for visiting. Among the interesting findings is how each MSA in the state ranks for places to enjoy nature, a bellwether for ranking a place for livability. Cities that rank high in livability have ample choices of places to get away from the stresses of city life, to re-connect with nature. These sites support low-impact and/or passive activities such as taking a nature walk, bird watching and other wildlife observation, nature or landscape photography, hiking, strolling down a garden path, camping under the stars, mountain biking, finding waterfalls, and so on. These places include state parks/natural areas, preserves, wildlife management areas, national forests, battlefields, and monuments, botanical and zoological gardens, state forests, county parks, greenways, trails, wildlife refuges, and lakes.

Here are how some of the counties in S.C. compare, ranked best to poorest in numbers of natural areas:

County: sites per person

Charleston: 1 per 6,888

York: 1 per 9,683

Greenville: 1 per 10,544

Aiken: 1 per 10,965

Horry: 1 per 16,212

Spartanburg: 1 per 19,522

Richland: 1 per 21,378

Florence: 1 per 31,440

In general, the coastal and mountain counties rank high. Others more rural for comparison:

Colleton: 1 per 1,822

Oconee: 1 per 2,069

Beaufort: 1 per 3,779

Georgetown: 1 per 4,649

Berkeley: 1 per 5,486

Pickens: 1 per 6,515

A real surprise then is York County. Residents of that non-coastal and non-mountain county can take pride and enjoy the abundant choices (not even counting those many choices in N.C./Charlotte area) of natural areas to explore-17 in all.

Florence movers and shakers: in order to attract more relocations to your fair city, you might consider creating more wild greenspace nearby. Currently, your citizens have a dismal 4 choices of natural areas for your entire county.

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York is indeed a surprise, and I live here. I would have expected my native Orangeburg County to at least make the list; there are several nature-based recreational opportunities there.

Although Richland ranks rather low on the list, I'd consider it to be in the upper eschelons just based on Congaree National forest, the only national forest in the state, an International Biosphere Reserve, and the largest intact tract of old-growth floodplain forest in North America.

All in all, interesting stats. There really should be more of an emphasis on ecotourism in this state, and these figures prove it.

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Does the numerous boat-drop sites & beaches on Lake Wylie possibly inflate York's totals? Though there are some quality natural parks - obviously Kings Mtn but I've heard of a few other sites in the western side of the county. The county does at least have a real greenspace program - which I absolutely hope they can preserve as much of western York County as possible. THe dirt roads that meander through the river hills along the Broad is home to some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen.

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In my opinion, Pickens County is an easy first or second as far as beautiful scenery goes. Of course, I love mountains! :wub: Oconee County is definitely up there as well. The western edge of that county is incredibly rugged and beautiful.

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I'd like to explore Oconee County one day; I know very little about it.

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York is indeed a surprise, and I live here. I would have expected my native Orangeburg County to at least make the list; there are several nature-based recreational opportunities there.

Although Richland ranks rather low on the list, I'd consider it to be in the upper eschelons just based on Congaree National forest, the only national forest in the state, an International Biosphere Reserve, and the largest intact tract of old-growth floodplain forest in North America.

All in all, interesting stats. There really should be more of an emphasis on ecotourism in this state, and these figures prove it.

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^You are correct; I forget about those. So Congaree is one of three national forests in the state.

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hehe, Congaree is a National Park controlled by the National Park Service, Francis Marion and Sumter are National Forests controlled by the USDA Forest Service :-)

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^Thanks for pointing that out. I knew I'd read that Congaree was the only national forest in SC in something official, but I guess that is what it was referring to. I guess those are the only distinctions. We're fortunate to have all three.

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I liked visiting Oconee this summer. They have plenty of waterfalls, Stumphouse Tunnel, and SC 11. Be sure to stop in Walhalla.

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My grandparents live in Walhalla. The city itself is kind of dying, but they have an Octoberfest every year that is absolutely amazing, and driving down 183 just outside of the city is beautiful, the mountains literally surround you. If you ever get a chance to go up there, definitely drive through Walhalla on up 28 into the mountains, the views are amazing.

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My grandparents live in Walhalla. The city itself is kind of dying, but they have an Octoberfest every year that is absolutely amazing, and driving down 183 just outside of the city is beautiful, the mountains literally surround you. If you ever get a chance to go up there, definitely drive through Walhalla on up 28 into the mountains, the views are amazing.

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^^and if you ever get the chance, drive into the city from hwy 183 and you can see Walhalla's "skyline". Just over the tops of the trees you can see the clock tower of the lutheran church and the new courthouse (its like 6 stories I think), its actually a quite nice view and a nice change from Cola

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Here is a shot of that same Lutheran church, taken about two weeks ago. I should have taken more photos while passing through, but didn't want to spend the extra time. Oh well... :rolleyes:

WalhallaLutheran_01.jpg

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Thanks for posting that--great picture! It is a very handsome and dignified church. I must visit soon . . .

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