The Congaree National Park is located in a complex floodplain that contains an array of aquatic ecosystems and wetlands occupied by old growth forest. The National Monument, now National Park, was established in 1976, and is located 20 miles southeast of Columbia, in central South Carolina. Most of the 22,200 acres is occupied by wetlands and seasonally inundated bottomland hardwood and swamp forests.
The Congaree National Park is the largest old growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. It supports high densities of neotropical migrants in the summer and during migration. Winter densities of temperate migrants and permanant residents are high. Numerous dead and down snags and woody material support high numbers of cavity nesters. Congaree's large size, old growth nature and public ownership make for an outstanding research site
Water impoundment projects, upstream development activities, and potential sources of pollution in upstream watersheds pose the most serious threats to the health of the Congaree ecosystem. rban and agricultural development in the vast watershed (over 8,000 square miles) brings with it a potential for surface water contamination.
The Congaree National Park property is owned by the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service. There are a minor number of in-holdings remaining and owned by a hunt club.
The Congaree National Park is predominately floodplain forest averaging 2-2.5 miles in width, periodic flooding 8-10 times annually, mostly in late winter and early spring. Moderate winters are offset by a long and humid growing season. Extremely fertile alluvial soils composed of clays and silts are dominant. Typical wetlands in the area include several "oxbow lakes", numerous "guts" and creeks distributed throughout the floodplain.
The primary land use in the Congaree National Park is conservation of habiatat for wildlife and as a wilderness area. There is a system of boardwalks for environmental education, particularly of school groups. There is also a series of land and water trails for ecotourism.