ST. STEPHEN, SC – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, recently hosted the 8th Annual Wounded Warriors and Veterans Fishing Day at the Redeviation Dam of the Cooper River in St. Stephen.
Canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and held with limited attendance with security measures in 2021, the event is back this year with a bang. Sixty people attended this year’s event, which was open to all veterans, even those with disabilities who require mobility assistance.
“Despite being rescheduled at the last minute due to weather, this year’s event was a great success,” said Charleston District Natural Resources Program Specialist Jesse Helton, who helps plan the annual event. “We look forward to next year’s event and hope to continue to increase the number of participants. Giving our wounded warriors, veterans and active duty service members a chance to have a great day fishing and visiting each other is the goal of this event.
The event would not be possible without the help of the MRN, which authorizes fishing in a protected wildlife area once a year.
“As always, I want to express our gratitude to the DNR,” Helton said. “Without their support in planning the event and working with attendees on the day of the event, we would not be able to make it happen.”
The event was also an opportunity for MNR to collect age data and health information on some of the fish caught. These data will provide important information about the American Shad population that will be used to inform fisheries management decisions for the species.
Unlike other USACE districts, the Charleston District does not operate any official recreation site. However, the St. Stephen property was used unofficially for years as a recreation site in South Carolina and hosted many events.
The Corps proposed CRRP in the early 1970s to reduce sedimentation and dredging costs in Charleston Harbor. Construction began in 1978 and was completed in March 1985. This project saves taxpayers $36 million a year in dredging costs in the Port of Charleston, while benefiting shipping, industrial development, to hydroelectricity, fish and wildlife.
Since the dam prevented fish from swimming upstream to the spawning grounds, a fish lift was built to move the fish across the dam. Up to 750,000 fish pass through the fish lift per year. The fish lift is operated by the SCDNR during the spawning season, which generally runs from February 1 to May 15, depending on water flows and temperature.
The annual fishing day is not the only event organized by the USACE and the DNR. In the fall, the agencies hold an annual dove hunt, which takes place just down the street from the dam and is also for veterans only.