More people taking advantage of a scenic natural resource doesn’t always mean more damage to the property. We hope that will be the case if York County goes ahead with plans to build a boat ramp on the Broad River.
Outdoor enthusiasts already are using the Broad in the western part of the county for fishing, kayaking or just floating down the river on inner tubes. Sportsmen also hunt and hike along its shores.
But the plan to establish a boat access just north of Hickory Grove Road undoubtedly would attract more people to the river, which many regard as an undiscovered resource for the county. The ramp, which would be built on land commonly known as Worth Mountain, would be paid for by the state at a price not to exceed $750,000, after which the county would be charged with maintaining it.
Some property owners along the river fear that newcomers won’t have the same respect for the river they do. But it’s possible that those who take advantage of the ramp to use the river also will understand they have a stake in preserving it, with the river gaining a whole new cohort of protectors.
It is reassuring that community-minded environmentalist Harry Dalton of Rock Hill has endorsed the plan. He bought the 1,700-acre Worth Mountain property from the Strom Thurmond Foundation for about $900 an acre when the county thought the price was too steep.
Dalton sold the land back to the county in 2008 through its land preservation arm, York County Forever, for the same price he had paid for it. He thinks that with the addition of the boat ramp the property could be the “Grand Central Park of York County.”
Dalton’s goal for the property was to ensure that it was not developed. When he sold it to the county, it was protected by a conservation easement, and now officially is the Worth Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
Those restrictions should go a long way toward preventing misuse of the largely pristine and beautiful area while also allowing people access to the Broad River. The river runs 150 miles from the mountains in Buncombe County in North Carolina to Columbia, where it merges with the Saluda River to form the Congaree River.
The section of the Broad from the 99 Island Dam in Cherokee County to where it merges with the Pacolet River in Spartanburg County was named a state scenic river in 1991. A public access is located at 99 Island Dam.
This plan appears to be a no-lose proposition for the county, with the state paying the entire cost of building the boat ramp. The ramp creates an array of recreational opportunities for visitors and residents alike.
Of course, maintaining the site and preserving the natural splendor of the river will require good stewardship by the county and by those who use the river. But that shouldn’t be too much to ask for providing better access to one of the overlooked natural recreational gems of York County.