City leaders voting to begins first phase of Hitchcock Woods preservation

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Developing a plan to preserve the country’s largest privately owned urban forest is in the works.

Hitchcock Woods is an area that for the last 60 years has been slowly fading away.

Storm run-off has significantly eroded and polluted parts of the woods.

Aiken City Councilman Reggie Ebner was part of the task force organized by Mayor Rick Osbon, that was in charge of coming up with a management plan to resolve the longstanding problem.

“The plan is to work around town to see if we can find areas that we can put any retention ponds of detention ponds to slow the water flow down,” Ebner told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Patricia Corey, the Chairman of the Board of Trustee of the Hitchcock Woods Foundation, told NewsChannel 6:

“The Hitchcock Woods Foundation is deeply appreciative of the leadership of Mayor Osbon in creating the Task Force and the determined efforts of the City Manager’s Office to develop a solid, achievable plan after 20 years of study. We are proud to be a partner in this shared solution and look forward to working closely with the city in the years to come.”

More than $5 million dollars was generated from Capital Project Sales Tax in 2004 and 2010, to fund Phase 1 of the project.

To ultimately restore the woods, back to its original glory, it’s going to take a lot of money and time.

However, Ebner says funding the future phases won’t fall on just Aiken City taxpayers.

“There’s almost 50 percent of the water belongs to the state,” Ebner said. “So they are going to have to chip in some money too.”

Capital Project Sales Tax revenue will fund Phase 1 of the project, which is to develop a plan to mitigate damage in the Sand River Basin.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.  

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