Rivers have always been of critical importance to man but today, we tend to take them for granted. They provide us our water. They are a habitat for wildlife. They are a recreational outlet. Yet, we take from them and seldom give back.
The Broad River flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains and empties into the Atlantic tidewaters. For Native Americans, it was a pathway from the foothills to the sea. Its meandering course and mild currents made travel along it relatively easy.
Today, the river’s importance to natural ecosystems and to our needs is understood more fully. Its scenic and recreational importance is also understood, Parts of the river in South Carolina have been designated a
“state scenic river”.
In 1994, citizens of Cleveland County galvanized into action to preserve part of the Broad River near Boiling Springs, NC. In a unique public/private partnership, a 448-acre tract of land along the both sides of a stretch of 1.5 miles of river was purchased and deeded to Cleveland County and the Town of Boiling Springs. A governing volunteer body, the Broad River Council, was formed to manage it.
Since that time, the council has guided the development of what is called the Broad River Greenway, following a twenty-year master plan. Shelters, picnic areas, handicapped accessible trails and additional property acquisition have been the initial priorities.
The 1500 acre Greenway, running along both sides of the river, beckons, nature lovers with a variety of animals and plants.
Silence, and a sharp eye, might be rewarded with a glimpse of an Osprey, a Broad-winged hawk, Blue Heron, Canada Goose, Spotted Sandpiper, Pine Warbler, colorful Parula Warbler, or a Red-eyed Vireo. The Greenway is also home to several types of duck.
The dense, and often wet, underbrush and the banks of the river provide a safe haven for deer, wild turkey, flying squirrels, groundhogs, mink, muskrats, foxes, and amybe the occassional skunk. There have also been reports of bobcats roaming the area.
Some of the Greenway’s most beautiful treasures are it’s wildflowers. Rhododendron, Mountain Laurel, Trillium, Wild Azalea, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Dwarf flowered heartleaf, and many more paint the landscape.