AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Aiken city leaders are working to protect areas around Shaws Creek. “There could be no development, it would be preserved in its natural state,” City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said.

In 2020, the city of Aiken purchased 2,500 acres of forested land around Mason Branch Reservoir. The water supply flows into Shaws Creek. “There will be some cost savings. You need less chemicals to treat the water,” he shared.

The forest, also known as the Brunswick tracts, filters miles of streams that feed the water treatment plant. “If development were allowed, certain types of development could have a negative impact on water quality,” Bedenbaugh added.

The majority of the property will be protected by “conservation easements.” It’s more concrete compared to an ordinance. “The much simpler process to undo would be an ordinance. If the goal is to preserve the property, a conservation easement is the way to go,” he said.

The change would allow leaders to move forward with several projects. “You could make minor adjustments like allow for some passive recreation, perhaps construct trails, greenways, and small shelters. One project could involve a greeneway starting at Generations Park. NewsChannel 6 told you about that plan in 2021.

“We’re pursuing potentially acquiring some easements to, long-term, have some connectivity between the Beverly Clyburn Generations Park and the property near the reservoir,” he said.

The City is working to secure a grant for the project. City council will discuss the issue soon.