Passive Parks Program

In 1998, Beaufort County created the Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program (RCLPP or Program) as a partial answer to establishing a balance between environmental protections and rapid development growth occurring in the County. Since 2000, five bond referendums have been approved by Beaufort County citizens, totaling $160 million, to fund land purchases and park improvement projects. As a result, more than 26,000 acres of land have been protected through either fee-simple purchase or purchase of development rights. RCLPP lands have been deemed special by the community and acquired properties have scenic views, critical habitat, water access, or historic significance. Proper stewardship of these natural and cultural resources is fundamental to land management and the protection of the conservation values of these properties.

Providing opportunities for the public to recreate on RCLPP lands, without harming the intrinsic conservation value, is the natural progressive evolution of the Program. In 2016, a Public Opinion Survey was conducted by Clemson University’s Strom Thurmond Institute for the Beaufort County Planning Department. This survey confirmed the public’s commitment and support of conservation areas (97%) and the desire for the ability to access those areas (86%). The benefits of open space and parks are well documented. Research shows that parks overwhelmingly enhance the quality of life of citizens, contribute to community health and vibrancy, and promote economic development, tourism, and education. Many of the RCLPP properties have abundant potential for public access and passive recreation.

Stewardship is a broad and comprehensive type of property management, which involves managing property resources with three achievable goals: sustainability, multi-use, and revenue generation. The first stewardship goal is to promote sustainability and safeguard the conservation values and natural resources from being compromised. The second stewardship goal is to promote multi-use of RCLPP properties while protecting conservation values. The third stewardship goal is to generate revenue from the land in an ecologically sustainable manner to assist with the management and maintenance of the RCLPP properties.

In 2018, Beaufort County hired a Passive Parks Manager to oversee and initiate the evolution of the Program through well-informed stewardship goals and a continued focused on the Program’s mission. During the implementation process for each property, the Passive Parks Manager will collaborate with Beaufort County stakeholders in order to provide lifetimes of public use and enjoyment of RCLPP properties.

Passive Park Public Use Work Plan

On October 22, 2018, County Council adopted a Resolution to approve the Work Plan. The 2022 updated version can be downloaded here, and its associated priority table can be downloaded here.

Passive Park Ordinance

In conjunction with the Work Plan, a new Passive Park Ordinance has been adopted by County Council on December 10, 2018, which can be downloaded here. The Passive Park Ordinance applies to all fee-simple County owned and co-owned properties purchased through the Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program. Please click here to download the list of applicable properties.

Passive Park Facility Rental Application

The Passive Parks Facility Rental Application and its associated Addendum provides instructions, a fee schedule, and an application process for reserving available facilities on the County's passive parks. The application will be updated as new facilities and amenities become available for public use. The application can be downloaded by clicking here. Upon approval, the application addendum will also be required and can be downloaded by clicking here.

All picnic pavilions on Beaufort County passive parks are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Currently, the passive park facility rental application is applicable to the following facilities:

  • Crystal Lake Park Conference Room
  • Fort Fremont History Center Conference Room
  • Widgeon Point Preserve Event Barn (restricted November-January)

Passive Park Geocaching/Letterboxing

Geocaching is a hide and seek outdoor recreational activity where participants use a GPS device to find a "cache". Geocaching is similar to letterboxing, which uses landmark clues and references to find the cache. A typical cache is a small waterproof container with a logbook and/or trinket, such as a small toy or stamp. Geocaching and letterboxing is allowed, with an approved permit, on passive parks that are open to the public. The permit can be downloaded by clicking here and submitting it to the Passive Parks Manager for approval.

Passive Parks Manager

Stefanie M. Nagid

124 Lady's Island Drive

Beaufort SC 29907

(843) 255-2152