News Release

Congaree Biosphere Region Convenes First Advisory Council

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Date: June 11, 2021
Contact: David Shelley

HOPKINS, SC – The Congaree Biosphere Region (CBR) has established a new partnership agreement between the Southeast Rural Community Outreach, the Central Midlands Council of Governments, and Congaree National Park.

The CBR is recognized among the World Network of Biosphere Reserves for its unique natural beauty and cultural heritage. The mission of the CBR is to “foster a future that celebrates, values, and sustains the rich natural and cultural legacies of the SC Midlands in concert with opportunities to promote healthy, vibrant, and prosperous communities.”

Congaree National Park, the Southeast Rural Community Outreach, and the Central Midlands Council of Governments will work under the new agreement to jointly establish a local advisory council. This council will bring together people and organizations to achieve the CBR mission. The three partners recognize that community involvement and voluntary cooperation among diverse organizations are the cornerstones of achieving a prosperous and environmentally secure future.

The CBR includes Congaree National Park as well as an “Area of Partnership and Cooperation” that extends to portions of lower Richland, Calhoun, Sumter, and Kershaw counties. The CBR council will work across this entire area as a voluntary landscape collaborative to sustain the many benefits of healthy land, air, water, and communities. Biosphere Reserves/Regions including the CBR are strictly voluntary frameworks and have no authority over local organizations’ resources, jurisdiction, functions, regulations, activities, or operations.

A working group of CBR partners has been meeting informally since 2016. The new agreement convenes the three partners as the first standing members of an Advisory Council. They also mutually agree to expand council membership and engage a wide range of new partners.

“As a regional planning agency, the Central Midlands Council of Governments strives to provide the highest quality planning services and technical assistance to the Central Midlands region,” said Ben Mauldin, Executive Director. “We are excited to foster this inclusive initiative that promotes sustainable economic development and responsible environmental stewardship.”

Marie Adams, Board Chair for the Southeast Rural Community Outreach, noted that “The CBR is rich with history, cultural heritage, and traditional practices closely linked to the outdoors, and this collaboration is an opportunity to build upon this existing foundation. We look forward to celebrating the richness of SC Midland’s natural and cultural gems.”

“CBR partnerships will help us come together to address common challenges and opportunities. The goal is for visitors from all over the world to experience the park not just as an isolated place, but as part of a vibrant landscape with abundant opportunities for recreation, heritage tourism, and local business.” said park Superintendent K. Lynn Berry. “These partnerships also encourage the protection of local watersheds that nourish the park. As part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, this designation also positions us share with and learn from similar efforts around the globe.”

More information about the CBR and the advisory council will soon be available via partner websites, including

Last updated: June 11, 2021

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