Congaree National Park staff was recognized this week for their work in enhancing wilderness stewardship at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. by the National Park Service and its philanthropic partner the National Park Foundation. Present to accept the NPS Director’s 2021 Wes Henry Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Team Award on behalf of park staff was Acting Superintendent Stephen Akins.
In 2021, park staff from multiple divisions worked to enhance wilderness stewardship, instituting a new method for evaluating the use of tools in wilderness, addressing mobility and accessibility issues in wilderness areas, and equipping staff and community partners with essential wilderness ethics, risk management, and first aid training, making significant strides to protect and enhance the wilderness character of Congaree National Park.
“Wilderness is a valuable resource for not just our local communities, but for all who visit Congaree to experience one of the best examples of southeastern wilderness remaining today,” said Akins. “Park staff is dedicated to continuing to protect wilderness and make it available to all who come to see it.”
Wilderness was first designated in what was then Congaree Swamp National Monument in 1988. Today 21,700 acres of wilderness at Congaree allows visitors the ability to experience the natural floodplain landscape and the old-growth forest of the park in a unique way. Visitors to the park can hike park trails or take a kayak or canoe down Cedar Creek to see the what wilderness at Congaree contains.