Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Organizations and elected officials across South Carolina are hoping that state waterways become a more popular hot spot for outdoor activities and tourism.
During a state wide event that kicked off Wednesday morning called Paddling for Progress, participants discussed ways to improve and create more blueways.
There are plenty of waterways in South Carolina including the three rivers that meet in Columbia. However, a majority of people don't take advantage of them and that's something Paddling for Progress participants hope to change.
David Harper is the development director for the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, and was one of many who took part in Wednesday's event.
"It's really meant to bring together enthusiasts, activists and professionals," explained Harper, "who are working to really make sure that canoeing and kayaking are really a part of South Carolina's economic development and tourism industry."
Participants are focused on developing blueways which are water trails with launch points, camping locations and points of interests.
Columbia City Councilman Cameron Runyan, is in favor of developing both blue and greenways.
"The lower Saluda River is absolutely magical," said Runyan. "The greenway opens up the river not just for folks who are getting in the river, but for folks who want to come walk along the river and experience the beauty of what we have."
Supporters say they hope to improve two things, the state's economy and overall enjoyment of the state's natural resources.
"They'll actually spend money on lunches, on gear," said Harper, "so we see a connection between not only healthy living but economic development. There's so much to do once you begin to look at things from the water. We've got it all right in South Carolina. "
According to Mr. Runyan, should Richland County's proposed penny tax pass in November's election, millions of dollars of earmarked funds would go towards developing blueways and greenways on the Saluda River.