The City of Walterboro has received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Walterboro Wildlife Center. The city won in the 5,001–10,000 population category.
The Walterboro Wildlife Center, built in a repurposed downtown building, connects the 600 acres of boardwalks, hiking, biking and canoe trails through the hardwood forest and creeks of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto found in the Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary in downtown. Its interpretive exhibit hall shows the significance and history of Lowcountry swamps and the many species living within them, complete with live exhibits of plant and animal life. Future plans for the center include wildlife programming, event rentals and performing arts events.
While the center originally had the sole purpose of showcasing the wildlife sanctuary, that purpose grew into something larger throughout years of development and came to encompass downtown revitalization. The center takes advantage of the downtown location and provides a large event and meeting space, as well as an amphitheater, Walterboro’s first outdoor entertainment venue.
Funding to create the center came from state grants, the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s Hometown Economic Development, federal sources and the City of Walterboro. The total funds for the project reached $2,625,000. The Friends of the Great Swamp Sanctuary helped with the design of the facility, while Colleton County sold the city an adjacent parking lot.
“The Walterboro Wildlife Center shows that downtown development and ecotourism can be a great match and a benefit to residents and visitors,” said Todd Glover, executive director for the S.C. Municipal Association.
“We are honored to have received the S.C. Municipal Association’s Achievement Award for excellence and innovation. The Walterboro Wildlife Center was the result of a collaborative effort by many people over a number of years. We look forward to the time when it will be fully utilized by our community. This award is one in which Walterboro and all of Colleton County can take pride,” said Mayor Bill Young.