01 Jun Welcome to the Swamp!
Welcome to the Congaree National Park or as the locals call it the SWAMP! Located just 20 miles southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. Congaree or Cong for short is home to the largest old-growth stand of hardwood bottomland forest in the United States. At roughly 26,000 acres and situated at the confluence of both the Congaree and Wateree rivers. The park is home to a number of historical sites that exemplify its rich cultural history from Native American mounds to slave-built dykes and levees. Along with its cultural history, the park is home to a vast amount of flora and fauna. This large amount of biodiversity has earned the park several designations, including National Natural Landmark, Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance, International Biosphere Reserve, and Globally Important Bird Area. All of these designations are made possible by the frequent flooding that occurs on both the Congaree and Wateree Rivers. Which turns the usually dry floodplains into a small swamp with water that can be several feet deep many times throughout the year. These floods actively replenish the nutrients in the soil and make the floodplain an incredibly fertile and unique ecosystem. The fertile soils promote the growth of several champion trees under the National Big Tree Program. These giant trees range from the bald cypress to the loblolly pine and tower up to a hundred feet in the air. These giants have caused several historians to refer to the park as the redwoods of the east. The incredible diversity extends into the aquatic environments. As expected of a floodplain environment, the park is littered with ephemeral streams and ponds. However, the park is also home to several oxbow lakes and perennial streams. They are home to roughly 60 different fish species. This amount of diversity along with the unique environment found within Cong present a rare opportunity for me as a fisheries assistant to work hands-on with a variety of fish species but will also give me an excuse to get down a dirty with fish while working in the Swamp. So, if you ever find yourself near Columbia, South Carolina. Take a moment and explore Congaree National Park. Because I can guarantee you will find yourself more than captivated by the mysterious beauty known as the Swamp!