Francis Marion National Forest
|Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Credit: Martjan Lammertink|
|Bottomland Baldcypress. Credit: Ricky Wrenn|
|Kayaking Wambaw Creek. Credit: Ricky Wrenn|
This 258,000 acre national forest, located 20 miles north of Charleston, has been managed by the Forest Service since 1936; however, human occupation can be traced back 10,000 years. The long history of human occupation has brought about many changes in the natural environment of the forest. Native Americans harvested a bounty of wildlife and plants. Later, Europeans settled the area and cleared land for small farms and wealthy rice plantations. Following the Civil War and the decline of the rice aristocracy, wide-scale lumbering cleared much of the forest land for timber products.
Uncontrolled logging, intense harvesting of wildlife and ravaging wildfires combined to present a bleak landscape. In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt enacted legislation to establish the Francis Marion National Forest. Named after the Revolutionary War General, Francis Marion, the forest has become a national treasure. Today, forest ecosystems represent a diverse and healthy example of sound natural resource management. Several endangered and threatened animal and plant species make their homes in the forest including the Red-cockaded woodpecker, American alligator, American chaffseed, and Pondberry.
Challenges are still very much a part of everyday conservation. An expanding urban interface and natural events all contribute to a complex management strategy, centered around the goal of maintaining a healthy and productive national forest. Restoring longleaf pine communities is one key objective accomplished through prescribed burning. Natural resource professionals use the latest technology to manage the forest for a variety of public benefits, from wood products to recreational opportunities such as hunting, hiking and camping.
The forest boasts nearly 120 miles of recreational
trails: canoe, hiking, horseback riding, motorcycling, mountain biking, and interpretive trails. Seven recreational areas provide camping, picnicking and boating opportunities. Hundreds of miles of open roads offer many accessible nature viewing and hunting opportunities. A diverse network of waterways, from slow-moving blackwater
creeks to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway offer boating and
fishing experiences.Learn much more about the
management of this unique forest ecosystem by visiting Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests.