Trail crews to work on clearing paths this summer at Congaree Na - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Trail crews to work on clearing paths this summer at Congaree National Park

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RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) -

After the safe rescue of a father and his two children, more attention is being called to the maintenance of park trails.

Congaree National Park officials say there has already been a plan in place to update trail markers and clear debris this summer that was left after a February ice storm.

"We do have a project in place this year that will fund the replacement of a large section of our elevated boardwalk," said Lauren Gurniewicz with Congaree National Park. "That section, which was due to be replaced as part of a regular cycle, happened to have several large sections taken out when large trees came down during the ice storm earlier this year. That work is set to take place this summer."

In state maintained parks, there was significant damage to some trails at Jones Gap and Table Rock and this winter, from Columbia down toward Charleston also due to the ice storm, said SC State Parks Director Phil Gaines.

"The ice storm caused significant damage at about 10 of our parks," Gaines said. 

Portions of those 10 parks still have remnants from the storms. But Gaines said trail maintenance and monitoring happens often.

"On our more significant trails that get a lot of use we're out there this time of year daily," Gains said. "We certainly look at those trails weekly and monthly as far as maintenance schedules and we do a lot of our maintenance work in the off season."

Gaines said in state parks there are not as many high profile rescues.

"It does happen but it's rare that we have a search that lasts a long time," Gaines said.

His biggest advice: stay on the trail.

"If debris is down and you can't see where that trail is going it's probably a good idea to turn around and go back and report it to the ranger," Gaines said.

Two USC students out enjoying Congaree National Park Wednesday plan to do just that.

"Hearing about how they got lost so easily, it is kind of a concern where there's debris and stuff falling down, it is hard to lose your way and then you're not sure where you came back so it's easy to get lost," said USC senior Hannah Carter.

Gaines said hikers should use caution when going to places that have been impacted by the weather and make it a safe trip so you can bring home memories that can last a lifetime.

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