14 Jun Fishing in a Swamp is a Job?
Congaree National Park is a unique and diverse environment that supports a plethora of flora and fauna. Established as National Monument in 1976 and upgraded to a National Park in 2003. This floodplain forest is home to a unique and diverse array of waterways and water features. From rivers and creeks to small ponds and lakes. These large, connected water systems support over 60 species of fish, many of which are common targets for anglers within the park.
In addition to its wide arrange of natural wonders, the park plays an important role in the local community both currently and historically. Surrounding the park is a primarily African American community that can be traced back to the pre-emancipation era. The area is home to some of the earliest black-owned homes that were given out during the reconstruction era. One such home is the Harriet Barber House. Purchased by a former slave in 1872, the house has been in the Barber family since 1872 and is now designated as a historical site. The relationship between the land now designated as the park and the local community is deep and complex. From digging for bait to camping along the river edge. Locals have been using and altering the land for generations. Many using fishing and hunting within the forest as a way to supplement their families’ diets. However, with the park earning National Park Status in 2003 and much of its land has now been designated as a wilderness area. Which promotes minimal human interaction with the environment. Disrupting or completely stopping many of these historical traditions the local community values. Leading to a large disconnect between the park and the local community.
My project over this summer is not only to help design and create an official Fishery Management Plan but is also to help incorporate the ideals and historical practices of the local community into the future management plans of the park. To accomplish this, I will be personally fishing and visiting many of the local fishing holes within the park. At each location, I will document any fish caught as well as evaluate the status of the locations. This includes reporting on trail conditions, accessibility, and picking up litter. Along with my personal accounts, I will be talking with anglers to gain firsthand experience of what fishing in the park means to them. Additionally, I will be visiting local bait and tackle shops to expand my knowledge of local fishing tactics. Granting myself a more holistic view of fishing in the local area. Using this local knowledge, I will create a bridge between the local community and the park and help guide a Fisheries Management plan that will accommodate the local history and preserve and promote sustainable fishing within the park.