2024 Congaree Research Symposium

Congaree National Park and Friends of Congaree Swamp are hosting the park’s fourth research symposium on Thursday, February 1, 2024 and Friday, February 2, 2024—World Wetlands Day. The symposium will focus on the Congaree Biosphere Region, first established in 1983 and recertified in 2016. This event will take place at the University of South Carolina Pastides Alumni Center Ballroom. In-person attendance is anticipated.


6:00-7:00 PM – Reception

7:00-7:30 PM – Welcome and Biosphere Introduction
Opening remarks and overview of US Biosphere Reserve Network
Jonathan Manchester (Congaree National Park), Cliff McCreedy (NPS)

7:30-8:30 PM – 40 Years of the Congaree Biosphere Region
Chair: Carson Lillard
Fran Rametta (NPS), Rachel Post (DOD), David Shelley (US Forest Service), Guillermo Espinosa (SCDOT)


9:00-10:15 AM – Session 1—Biodiversity and Conservation Research (Chair: John Kupfer)
Toby Feaster (USGS): An Overview of the USGS streamflow network and the importance of long-term records
Janet Steele (Clemson University): A thorny predicament: Assessing Eleagnus management strategies in wooded areas
Joe Quattro (USC): Population genetic structure for the synchronous firefly-Photuris frontalis

10:30-11:45 AM – Session 2—Integrating Local Communities in Research and Monitoring (Chair: Tameria Warren)
Jessica Elfenbein (USC): ): Shifting the narrative: How researching Congaree’s lumber, wood products and forest conservation Changes What We Know About SC’s History
Robert Reese (Town of Eastover): The Lower Richland CEAL collaborative: A STEM social justice initiative
Kirstin Dow (USC): Heat mapping in the Columbia Metro Region

1:00-2:15 PM – Session 3—Towards Environmentally Sustainable Regional Development in the Congaree Biosphere Region (Chair: John Grego)
Jeremy Dertien (University of Leipzig, Natura Connect): An integrated spatial prioritization for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services
John Kupfer (USC): Spatial patterns of conservation benefits, priorities, and barriers
Lauren Doran (Green Infrastructure Center): The Green Heart: Protecting and connecting the Congaree Biosphere Region for wildlife and people

2:30-3:45 PM – Session 4—Monitoring Data and Park Management Panel (Chair: Greg Hauburger)
Gregory Cunningham (US Forest Service), Jonathan Manchester (Congaree National Park), Claudia Santiago (US EPA), Liz Struhar (US Forest Service)

4:00-5:00 pm – Session 5—The Future of Congaree Biosphere Region Panel (Chair: Cliff McCreedy)
Marie Adams (South East Rural Community Outreach), Arik Jensen/Quinton Epps (Richland County), Gregory Sprouse (Central Midlands Council of Governments)





2022 Research Symposium Videos

Opening Remarks
Acting Superintendent Gregory Cunningham (Congaree National Park)


Review of Congaree National Park research
David Shelley (Congaree National Park)


Tribute to Will Graf and Rebecca Sharitz

Kimberly Meitzen (Texas State Univ, Dept of Geography and Environmental Studies)
Laura Stroup (St. Michaels Univ, Dept of Geography
Loretta Battaglia (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Dept of Life Sciences)

Session 1—Cultural History (Chair: Neal Polhemus)

Robert Greene (Claflin Univ, Dept of History): The Black history of Congaree Swamp: From the colonial era to Jim Crow

Mark Kinzer (National Park Service): Old-Growth and old fields: Historic human land use in the Congaree floodplain

Neal Polhemus (Univ of South Carolina, College of Arts and Sciences): Life and death on the edge of the swamp: Black farmers, White hunters, and the closure of the Congaree commons


Session 2—Hydrology (Chair: John Kupfer)

Greg Carbone (Univ of South Carolina, Dept of Geography): Historical climatology and future projections in central South Carolina
Ray Torres (Univ of South Carolina, School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment): Wetting and drainage of the Congaree River floodplain
Celeste Journey (USGS, South Atlantic Water Science Center): Water quality in Congaree National Park: New technologies to track contamination


Session 3—Geomorphology (Chair: Kimberly Meitzen)

Ellen Wohl (Colorado State Univ, Dept of Geosciences): Geomorphic influences on river corridor resilience to disturbance
Allan James (Univ of SC, Dept of Geography): Legacy sediment in the New World: Theoretical and practical concerns
Enrica Viparelli (Univ of SC, Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering): Measuring sediment fluxes between the Congaree River channel and its floodplain


Session 4—Ecosystems/Ecology (Chair: Loretta Battaglia)

Graeme Lockaby (Auburn Univ, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences): Biogeochemical investigations in Congaree National Park
Will Conner (Clemson Univ, Forestry and Environmental Conservation Dept): Forested wetlands dynamics across an elevation gradient within a floodplain forest of the Congaree River
Loretta Battaglia (Southern Illinois Univ, Dept of Plant Biology): Floodplain forest change along a post-Hurricane Hugo disturbance gradient


Session 5—Panel Discussion (Moderator: David Shelley)

Upcoming challenges and the future of research at Congaree National Park.
Theresa Thom (US Fish and Wildlife Service)
John Kupfer (Univ of South Carolina, Department of Geography)
Tim Watkins (National Park Service, Climate Change Response)

Water/Ways Virtual Symposium Video Sessions

Opening Session-A Black History of Congaree: From Slavery to the Post-Civil Rights Era by Prof. Robert Greene


Welcome and Introductions and Session 1- Home is where the water is: Water, Culture and history in the COWASEE Basin

K Lyn Berry (Congaree National Park)
TJ Wallace (SC Humanities)
Janae Davis (American Rivers)
Jon Manchester (National Park Service)
Marie Adams (Southeast Rural Community Outreach)
Mark Kinzer (National Park Service)
Moderated by John Cely and John Grego (Friends of Congaree Swamp)


Creative Exercise-Communal Pen Workshop experience with Eboni Ramm


Session 2-Water: Critical resource, societal asset

Quinton Epps (Richland County Conservation Department)
Michael Dantzler (Get Involved Lower Richland)
Jeff Duncan (National Park Service Wild & Scenic Rivers)
Bill Stangler (Congaree Riverkeeper)
Moderated by Greg Cunningham (National Park Service)


Session 3-It’s our water: Managing water at the local level

Synithia Williams (Richland County Stormwater Division)
Alex Butler (SC Department of Health and Environmental Control)
Guillermo Espinosa (Central Midlands Council of Governments)
Gerrit Jobsis (American Rivers)
Moderated by John Kupfer (University of South Carolina)

Session 4-What’s next? Spurred to action!

Robert Reese (Lower Richland)
Matt Johnson (Audubon, SC)
Stuart White (Congaree Land Trust)
Dr. David Shelley (Congaree Biosphere Region, NPS)
Carmony Adler (Gills Creek Watershed Association)

Water/Ways Virtual Symposium

Congaree National Park and Friends of Congaree Swamp are hosting the Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit through January 13, 2021 under the sponsorship of SC Humanities. The park and Friends of Congaree Swamp will host a virtual symposium Thursday, January 7, 2021 and Friday January 8, 2021 inspired by the exhibition’s themes.

Symposium Poster (pdf)


Symposium Sponsors

Recreation Fee Program

Congaree National Park is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the park’s Recreation Fee Program.

Learn more HERE

National Public Lands Day

To celebrate National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 28, Friends of Congaree Swamp will host a trail-clearing.  This will be our second year participating in National Public Lands Day, an event hosted by NEEF (National Environmental Educational Foundation) that is the largest volunteer service event held to support public lands.  We will meet at the Visitor Center at 9 AM then select service activities (trail-clearing and perhaps others), depending on turn-out.

The park service will provide vests and additional tools, but if you have loppers, handsaws, or long-handled shears, please bring them along.  We should be out no later than the early afternoon.  In addition to trail-clearing tools, bring plenty of water, gloves, a snack and insect repellent.  If interested, contact John Greg at friendsofcongareeswamp@gmail.com or (803) 331-3366.