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Contact: Sarah Cunningham, 864-543-4068
Ninety Six National Historic Site to Host Equestrian Stakeholder Meeting April 13
NINETY SIX, SC –The National Park Service (NPS), Ninety Six National Historic Site (Historic Site) will host a stakeholders meeting for the equestrian community on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Arts Center at the Federal Building located at 120 Main Street, Greenwood, SC 29646. Parking is available behind the Arts Center off Oregon Avenue and the Hampton Place Shopping Center. The purpose of this stakeholders meeting is to present the management and resource issues, desired outcomes, and provide an opportunity for equestrian users to share their opinions, values and shared stewardship possibilities regarding existing and future equestrian activities in response to the temporary closure of equestrian trails.
Ninety Six National Historic Site was established under public law to preserve and protect the features associated with the settlement and development of the colonial town and the Revolutionary War battles that occurred.With visitation averaging approximately 67,000 visitors annually, it is estimated that 1.5% of visitors are horse-back riders. For over 20 years, equestrian usage occurred at the park without a comprehensive trail use management plan in place. As a result, the Historic Site is in the process of formally addressing the management and resource protection and preservation issues, as well as sustainable collaborative management associated with these trails and the increase in use over the last 20 years. Currently all trails are closed to equestrian and bike use until an interim management plan can be developed in conjunction with the user groups affected. The Historic Site intends to collaborate with the multiple trail user groups to find a sustainable and practical path forward to managing the repair, maintenance, improvement, and carrying capacity of the trail system through cooperative agreements, volunteerism and development of a trail management plan.
During the first five days of October 2015, the area surrounding the Historic Site received 8-12 inches of rain which produced flash flooding across the historic site, particularly in low-lying areas.Since the state-wide historic rainfall, the park has received additional significant precipitation and flash flooding in nearly every month. Continued rains and damage caused by horseback riding use during and directly after rains have left many of the trails in an unstable condition, including damage to historical resources. Existing trail damage has also resulted in development of non-designated trails and damage to primary historical resources such as the Gouedy Trail, Charleston Road, and the Stockade Fort.Limited human resources and budgetary constraints prevent staff from being able to dedicate adequate time to patrol, assess repair, maintain, and monitor equestrian trails. The park is hopeful that with the help of the equestrian user community, some sections of trail may be open for use by the end of Spring. However, before any trail rehabilitation or realignment can begin, an NPS interdisciplinary team will need to conduct condition assessments, evaluate cultural and natural resource damages and potential impacts to any areas being considered for trail alignment, and gather necessary data associated with any unknown cultural / archeological sites. This information will be used to develop methods of monitoring trail conditions, an environmental assessment, and a sustainable equestrian use management plan.
At a date yet to be determined, there will be additional public meetings for all stakeholders / users of the Historic Site and a public comment period. As this develops, the Historic Site will prepare and distribute further information to the community.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 409 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.