Nature Calling: Beautiful Laurens County

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world to see is what’s right in front of our eyes. Whether it’s so familiar that we stop wondering about it, or it’s like dried chocolate ice cream on the tip of the nose that we just can’t see without someone’s help, we are often so preoccupied with ourselves, with the past, or with a future that hasn’t come yet that we don’t notice the people and things around us, even when they deserve our attention and matter most. Maybe we all have a little “I” trouble. One thing I’ve come to see more clearly—thanks to the help of others—is that Laurens County is a beautiful place. Sure, I’ve lived here for nearly two decades and I’ve always appreciated its natural beauty. Sure, I’ve been all around our county and have come to know a lot of great people. But it wasn’t until I began studying our county and volunteering with the Laurens County Trails Association that I’ve come to see more appreciatively the great treasure we have before our very eyes. Laurens County is rich in natural resources and worthy of our concerted care. Of course, like all treasures, it can be valued, nurtured, and used for good, or it can be unappreciated, mismanaged, and lost. Like the lyrics in the old Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi,” it would be too bad if we don’t come to know what we’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Once “paradise” is paved and a “parking lot” covers all signs of life that had thrived, there’s little chance of recovery, at least not without heroic effort and cost, if at all. In the coming weeks, the Laurens County Trails Association (LCTA) will release its Trails Master Plan for the People and Communities of Laurens County. First it will be shared with the county’s various community councils for their review. Then it will be made available for citizen review and input through municipal websites and on the LCTA’s own website that will launch with the plan’s distribution. There will also be more public meetings around the county to discuss the plan. Then it will return to the county’s councils for their considerations for adoption. The master plan, like the LCTA itself, is a citizen-driven, citizen-focused plan that provides a comprehensive look at the county’s existing conditions, the benefits that trails can bring to the county, and proposals for the development and implantation of land and water trails across Laurens County. At the plan’s heart is a call to the people of Laurens County to join together in bringing the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville County down through Laurens County, from Fountain Inn through Gray Court, Laurens, and Clinton, and to connect it to the South Carolina Palmetto Trail in Sumter National Forest. The plan shows how we can accomplish this goal, and it highlights the many benefits this trail and others would provide for the people, businesses, and natural resources of Laurens County. We have a great treasure in our county’s natural resources and in one another. It’s here before our eyes, each and every day, and it’s all worth our care. Wouldn’t it be great if we could help future citizens of Laurens County could see it, too? Be on the lookout for the Trails Master Plan and give it a read. It might help you see more clearly, too, why Laurens County is so special. (In this new regular column, “Nature’s Calling!,” Dr. Bob Bryant will be offering information and thoughts on a broad range of topics on the outdoors, especially for the people and communities of Laurens County.)

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