At nearly 27,000 acres, Congaree is easily one of the largest floodplain old growth forests left in the U.S. It is home to numerous “champion trees”, trees of such immense size and age that they may be the largest living trees of their species; we were able to measure and rank some of these trees. The floodplains, resting in the shade of 400 year old Bald Cypress groves, are home to a vibrant ecosystem of birds, amphibians, fish, reptiles and mammals. The floodplain routinely floods, leaving a beautiful maze of trees to canoe or kayak through. All of this land was protected by concerned citizens until 1976 when it finally became a national park. Under the protection of the National Parks Service much of this land has been conserved and managed responsibly for the benefit of biodiversity.
The National Park Rangers are divided into various teams managing different aspects of the park, including water management, botany, and even specialists who focus on feral boar invasion, and the supposedly extinct Ivory-billed woodpecker. The various roles and career niches of the National Parks service, from the interpretive rangers who run guided tours and monitor the wildlife to interpretation to education and emergency services, were discussed in depth . There are many internships and training opportunities in the various areas of the National Parks Service that were discussed, great opportunities for anyone interested in conservation and land and wildlife management positions as well as environmental education.
There are miles of trails and boardwalks for visitors to hike along through the marshy landscape. The park was transformed by the shifting river deposits as it migrated across the park over the past few thousand years. Various geological and ecological studies have been performed on this park because of the pristine nature and great hardwood forests, providing a great opportunity for anyone wishing to study those subjects and was perhaps the reason that the park was preserved by citizens of the area until half a century ago.