Just a few months ago, it appeared likely that Cove Swamp would be clear cut, destroying an incredibly beautiful spot that is home to a myriad of species including big alligators and large cypress and gum trees. Thanks to folks who love Lake Waccamaw that’s not going to happen.
The state fell short of the $700,000 purchase price this past spring. That’s where The Nature Conservancy and the Lake Waccamaw community came in, raising additional money to purchase the swamp from its out-of-state owner.
Two local groups – Friends of Lake Waccamaw State Park and Friends of the Green Swamp – helped lead the effort. Today, those folks, the Conservancy and the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation held a party to celebrate protecting Cove Swamp, which will become part of Lake Waccamaw State Park.
Lake Waccamaw is one of the Carolina bays that dot the east coast from Delaware to the Florida panhandle – elliptical depressions named for the sweet bay, loblolly bay and red bays that surround them. There are lots of Carolina bays, but most of them are very small – some are no more than 500 feet in length. Many of them don’t contain water. Many of them are totally dependent on rainwater. And, most are highly acidic. Lake Waccamaw is large – 9,000 acres with 14 miles of shoreline. It is fed by the Waccamaw River. Most importantly, large limestone bluffs along the north shore neutralize the water. There are eight species that occur only in the lake or its adjacent waters.
The 440-acre Cove Swamp tract lies northwest of the lake. It is home to the Waccamaw snail and the Waccamaw spike – two of the species found only at Lake Waccamaw. The swamp is connected to the lake through a series of canals.
Logging the swamp would have dramatically altered the area. The Conservancy estimates that it would have taken at least two centuries for the swamp to return to normal after clearcutting. Clearcutting the swamp would also have threatened Lake Waccamaw, driving nutrients into it that would likely have had a negative effect on its water quality.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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