February 16, 2006
It’s a popular spot for mountain bikers, hikers, hunters and fishers in the area: Sumter National Forest. But if President Bush’s budget for 2007 passes the way it is, almost 5,000 acres of Sumter and other federal land in South Carolina would be sold. News 12 explains why it might disappear.
This babbling brook and these tall pine trees could pay for schools and roads in Edgefield and McCormick Counties.
“When it came time to budget for the ’07 budget they didn’t have the funds,” said Stephanie Johnson, U.S. Forest Service.
So national forests across the county could pay the bill. And 5,000 of those acres are in Sumter National and other forests in South Carolina.
“Part of the issue is these are so far away from the boundary line,” Johnson said.
The parts of Sumter that would be sold are isolated spots that are difficult to take care of.
“Most of the national forests in the east are very fragmented. If you look at a map, it’s very much like swiss cheese,” Johnson said.
The land in the Sumter National Forest that could be sold doesn’t have any hiking or biking trails, but it does contain popular places to hunt and fish.
Chris Spiller lives near the forest with his wife and daughter.
“I hunt it, get permits to hunt it every year, so it would be upsetting if the federal government sold it,” Spiller said.
Chris says during turkey and deer season hunters from Georgia and South Carolina join him.
“I’m not a fan of selling public lands because once they’re gone, can’t get it back,” Spiller said.
“If folks feel either way, they really need to comment,” Johnson said.
Public comment could play a large role in deciding if these trees are around for her future.
On February 28 you can comment to the federal government about what you think about the sale of forest land. Click here for a complete list of the tracts of land that could be sold.