Carolina Bay Nature Preserve

23 Acres

14 acres was purchased by ALC and donated to the City of Aiken. The City combined the gift with 10 acres it already owned, including a central pond, to create a fully protected and largely restored Carolina bay and its watershed–a wildlife preserve almost in downtown Aiken. Public access permitted.

Carolina Bay Nature Preserve is a great example of concerned citizens working with the Aiken Land Conservancy to protect the places they love. Back in April of 1996, 14 acres surrounding an original Carolina Bay was threatened with development. This land represented one of the last large, undeveloped green spaces in the City of Aiken and surrounded an existing, 10-acre public park.

Pete Baumgartner

Pete Baumgarten

The late Pete Baumgarten, who had a deep personal interest in Carolina Bay ecology, worked to engage the Savannah River Ecology Lab with the Carolina Bay and surrounding land. The Lab’s subsequent studies proved what he already knew; that this was a property worth saving. Pete worked to create a “Save-the-Bay” campaign that would raise funds to purchase two parcels that made up the 14 acres of undeveloped natural habitat. Between 1996 and 1998, a variety of community events were held in conjunction with the Aiken Land Conservancy to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. This funding, when combined with funds the City of Aiken contributed, helped to purchase and save the land.

Today, the 24-acre park is owned by the City of Aiken and permanently protected with a conservation easement held by Aiken Land Conservancy. The site offers a closeness to nature right in town, and harbors a broad diversity of wildlife species. The story of its protection gives a wonderful example of the positive difference one person with a vision can make. Thank you, Pete.

More Information about Carolina Bay Nature Preserve, such as hours of operation, can be found here:

Aerial photo showing recreational lands owned by the City of Aiken. The Carolina Bay Nature Preserve is comprised of 10 acres of land previously owned by the City of Aiken (in pink) plus 14 acres purchased by ALC (in green). Adjacent is the Odell Weeks Activity Center (in yellow).

Click on any of the photos below for a larger view: