City of Walterboro has received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Walterboro Wildlife Center.
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The City of Walterboro has received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Walterboro Wildlife Center. The town won in the 5,001 – 10,000 population category. Thirty cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives for consideration in the annual awards.

Stretching across more than 600 acres and standing as South Carolina’s largest municipal park, the Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary combines conservation with ecotourism. It offers boardwalks, hiking, biking and canoe trails through the hardwood forest and what are known as braided creeks of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Basin.  

The new Walterboro Wildlife Center, built in a repurposed downtown building, connects the sanctuary to Walterboro’s 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. 

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 Grants, federal grants, as well as the City of Walterboro. The total funds brought together 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.

Future plans for the center include wildlife programming, event rentals and performing arts events. 

“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 Municipal Association.

These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association’s website (keyword: Achievement Awards).  

The Municipal Association of SC initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.