Open Space Movement Comes To Northern Beaufort County

by | Sep 2, 2006

Beaufort Gazette reports on moves being made to secure a new community hiking and biking trail.

The State Ports Authority plans to “railbank” the 26 miles of defunct tracks that run between Port Royal and Yemassee, preventing Port Royal residents from claiming the land and enabling Beaufort County to turn the railway into a walking and biking trail.

photo by Bob Sofaly

The Ports Authority shut down the rail line in November 2003 as a prelude to the state-mandated closing of the Port of Port Royal. If the rail line was abandoned, much of the land would revert to the owners of properties next to the rail line, according to a charter granted by the S.C. General Assembly in 1857.

Under provisions adopted by Congress in 1983, however, an owner can transfer its out-of-service railroad to another agency for use as a trail until the railroad might again be needed for rail service. “Such interim use shall not be treated … as an abandonment …,” the statute states.

The provision has withstood numerous legal challenges, according to the nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and has been applied to about 4,400 miles of rail lines in more than 30 states.

In other local news, AgriTech International plans to build a $5 million shrimp processing faciltity in Williamsburg County, a move that offers hope to an ailing shrimp industry. According to the article, a flood of cheaper farm-rasied imports has pushed down the price of America’s most-consumed shellfish in recent years, and rising fuel and equipment costs are keeping local trawlers tied to the docks instead of in the Atlantic casting nets.