Scenic Rivers - Overview

SC River

Program Overview

The goal of the Scenic Rivers program is the conservation of SC's river heritage through the proper management of the natural and cultural character of the state's river corridors. As is stated in the South Carolina Scenic Rivers Act of 1989, this program has the purpose of protecting "unique or outstanding scenic, recreational, geologic, botanical, fish, wildlife, historic or cultural values" of selected rivers or river segments in the state.

How does the program accomplish this goal?

Our approach to river corridor protection is through a voluntary cooperative community-based process which allows landowners, community interests, and the Department of Natural Resources to work together toward common river-conservation goals. The intent of the program is to bring landowners together to study the river and key river issues and to address these issues and management practices on lands bordering the river. Together, landowners and other interested parties in the community develop a scenic river management plan that recommends long term management strategies oriented toward preserving traditional uses of the river and the preservation of the scenic beauty of the river corridor.

How do I participate as a landowner?

For many landowners, participation simply means making a commitment to manage their property as they currently are doing. Obviously, in order for a river to qualify for scenic river designation, good land management practices have to exist along many rivers. The Scenic Rivers Stewardship Program provides landowners several voluntary options for participation. These include land registration, a management agreement, a conservation easement, and donation of land. Participation in the program is voluntary. The decision to participate in the program is yours and yours alone.

What is a scenic river management plan and who writes it?

A scenic river management plan contains several components. First, it contains a complete inventory of the existing land uses; and assessment of the scenic, recreational, geologic, botanical, fish, wildlife, historic, environmental and cultural attributes of the river corridor. It also includes an overview of problems in the river corridor and recommends a plan of action to solve those problems. Finally, the management plan recommends land management practices that are compatible with the preservation of the river. The management plan is written by a Scenic Rivers Advisory Council comprised of landowners along the river and interested members of the public. The plan should consider and protect the interests of private property owners.

What is a Scenic River Advisory Council?

A Scenic River Advisory Council is a six- to ten-member committee composed of river property landowners and representatives of community interest groups. Its job is to assist the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in the management of the scenic river corridor. By law, the majority of members on an advisory council must be landowners along the designated scenic river. For every State Scenic River, an advisory council is appointed by the Executive Director of the SC Department of Natural Resources and is chaired by a staff member from the DNR's Scenic Rivers Program. The advisory council is appointed after a river has been designated a State Scenic River by the South Carolina General Assembly. The initial task of an advisory council is to draft a management plan for the river.

What are the steps in the scenic river designation process?

There are five basic steps in the process of adding a river to the scenic rivers system:

  1. A written request from interested groups, individuals, landowners, local governments, or other such entities must be sent to the SC DNR asking for an eligibility study.
  2. The eligibility study is conducted by the Scenic Rivers Program staff. The staff studies the scenic, cultural, historic, and natural values of the river corridor. Land use along the river is also studied. Findings from the eligibility study provide the information needed to designate a State Scenic River and to classify it into one of three categories: a natural river, a scenic river or a recreational river.
  3. Landowners are notified during the eligibility study and a public meeting is held to discuss the study and the program in general. In addition, approval by county councils is required in the counties through which the designated scenic river would run.
  4. The General Assembly designates the river as a State Scenic River.
  5. An advisory council is appointed, and a management plan is cooperatively drafted for the scenic river.