Whether it is your first time or a much awaited reconnection, come experience Rocky Point Community Forest where the sky is just a bit bluer, the memories and sentiments run many generations deep, and the inexplicable magic of river and the forest are at your fingertips. We will be celebrating both the reopening of a special retreat for the community and the new life for the property as a community forest.
In my first weeks at Winyah Rivers Foundation in spring 2015, I visited Rocky Point. Though the property had been unused for several years and I knew very little about its history, it took just a matter of minutes to know Rocky Point was a special place. Largely it was just a feeling but it was punctuated but things like a swallow-tailed kite soaring overhead and the remains of an old rope swing in a tree along the river’s edge. On another hike at the property early on we came across the coachman family cemetery with graves dating back to around 1800. It was on that same visit that we encountered the developers’ flagging tape tied to trees marking out potential home sites as we explored the hardwood forest atop the bluff overlooking the Black River. That powerful energy of the river and forest, knowing that this place was special to so many people, and seeing the signs of how close Rocky Point was to being lost to the public were the reasons to commit to conserving this special place.
I have experienced the old Rocky Point through many stories…the July 4th community picnics, diving into the river off the wood-pulp barges docked at the old boat landing, canoeing on Choppee Creek and a young boy coming upon the long forgotten cemetery in the forest. In a conversation about a year ago a man kindly interrupted me as I was rambling over the details of the project grants and the partnership. He said “wait a minute…you mean Rocky Point is permanently protected?” I said “yes sir, it is”. You could see his expression of peace and he shared that he was so moved that he had goosebumps. Over the past several years I have met many people from the surrounding community that have a deep personal connection to Rocky Point. Their connection to and memories of this place have been the sustaining and rejuvenating influence for me as we have worked our way to this much awaited grand opening.
When I first began getting involved in the Rocky Point project I was completely naive of the complexity of the groundwork necessary to achieve the project’s goals and unprepared for the tests of patience and perseverance we would all encounter along the way. Over the past 3 ½ years we have been faced with unexpected challenges and delays that have slowed and complicated the opening of the property.
The grand opening on Saturday, December 1st is a thrilling milestone for the project and for WRF and its partners. For the project’s next phase we will continue to develop a plan for the addition of programs, services, and amenities at Rocky Point. In the near future we hope to recruit a “friends” group for the forest to steward the amenities of the property…a structured community group that will join the team administering the management, operation and guiding the future of the project to continue to fulfill its mission of conservation, recreation and education in service of the community.
Come celebrate the past, present, and future of Rocky Point with us! Saturday, December 1st at 11 am.
-Emma Gerald Boyer, WRF Land Conservation Officer