Estate Planning Attorney inConestee, SC

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Securing Your Legacy in South
Carolina

Did you know that one in two U.S. citizens have yet to create a plan for their estate? Just about everyone knows they need to get their affairs in order, but most people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. It's an uncomfortable subject to think about. After all, nobody wants to ponder their death and what happens to their assets when they pass. However, working with an estate planning lawyer in Conestee, SC, protects you, your loved ones, and your assets, both while you're alive and after you have died. There isn't a perfect time to plan your estate, but there is a right time and that time is now.

We understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to your estate planning needs. That's why, at CDH Law Firm, we make a concerted effort to speak with our clients personally so that we can create an estate plan that is as unique as they are. Our estate plans are comprehensive, cost-effective, and catered to you. That way, your family is provided if you are incapacitated or pass away.

At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that every one of our clients leaves our office feeling less stressed and more informed. Peace of mind is valuable currency these days. Why worry about the future of your loved ones when you can use South Carolina law to ensure their stability?

Many of the clients in Conestee that walk through our doors have significant questions that require serious answers. They're filled with doubt, stress, and worry. They're worried about their children, their spouse, their relatives, or all the above. They ask questions like:

  • How much does estate planning cost?
  • What kind of results can I expect?
  • How long will this process take?

If these questions sound familiar, know that you are not alone. At CDH Law Firm, we have worked with hundreds of clients just like you. Sometimes, these clients are unsatisfied with their current estate planning attorney in Conestee. Other times, they have been served with confusing papers or documents that leave them feeling overwhelmed. In either case, clients come to our office knowing they need to manage what is often a sudden, foreign situation.

The good news? We sit down with all new clients for an hour at no extra cost. We do so to get a basic sense of their situation and help steer them in the right direction. That way, they can leave our office feeling a little wiser and a lot better about the future.

Estate Planning Law Conestee, SC
Service Areas

Our firm specializes in several areas of estate planning and family law, including:

  • Estate Planning
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Wills
  • Heath Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Wills
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Retirement Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts

The CHSA Law
Difference

At CHSA Law, LLC, estate planning is like second nature to us. Having worked hundreds upon hundreds of cases, we have the knowledge and experience to assist with all the estate planning needs that you or your family have.

As our client, you will always work directly with your attorney. We do not pass cases off to paralegals or junior associates. Because your concerns and questions don't end when our office closes, we encourage our clients to contact us at any time.

Because we limit the number of cases we accept, we have the time and resources to truly dedicate ourselves to each of our clients. Unlike some competitors, we care about the outcome of every case because we know that our clients' future depends on it.

 Estate Planning Attorney Conestee, SC The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference
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What Our Clients Say

What is Estate Planning in
Conestee, SC?

The word "estate" might make you think of a sprawling mansion in the French countryside. The truth is, you don't have to be rich to have an estate. In fact, most people already have an estate. An estate comprises the assets that a person owns like cars, bank accounts, real estate, businesses, and other possessions. Everyone's estate is different, but we all have one thing in common: none of us can take our estates with us when we die. When that does eventually happen, you will need legal instructions that state who gets what from your estate in plain terms.That, in a nutshell, is estate planning building a framework in advance that names the organizations or people that should receive your assets after you die. Planning your estate now helps make life much easier for your family down the line.

 Estate Planning Lawyer Conestee, SC
A good estate plan covers more than fiscal assets, however. A comprehensive
estate plan should include the following:
  • If you have children who are minors, instructions as to who will be their guardian when you die.
  • Long-term care insurance if you suffer from an extended injury or illness.
  • Instructions that dictate what happens to you and your financial affairs if you become incapacitated before death.
  • Instructions on the transfer of your business after retirement, incapacity, disability, or death.
  • Instructions on how to provide for loved ones who might need help managing money or who need protection from creditors.
  • Probate and tax avoidance that help minimize court fees, taxes, and legal fees.
  • Planning Medicaid payments.
  • Instructions that help complete or update beneficiary designations.
  • Assist family members who have special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits.

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn't just for adults who are approaching retirement age. Estate planning is for everyone. After all, we're all getting older, and none of us know exactly when it will be our time to go.

The Basics of Estate Planning
in Conestee, SC

Although estate planning can be complicated, a well-rounded plan makes a huge difference in what is left to your beneficiaries. Before you start planning your estate, it's important to know a few common topics that may arise as you detail your needs.

1.

Working with a Tax Advisor and Estate Planning
Attorney in Conestee, SC

Working with a veteran estate planning lawyer is a no-brainer, but you should consider working with a tax advisor too. Your attorney's role is to help guide you through the creation of your estate planning documents. Common documents include your will, health care directives, and power of attorney. Your tax advisor will help guide you through tax issues associated with your estate planning needs.

In this relationship, you make the decisions while your attorney and tax advisor help you understand and think through the options you're considering. As a team, they will help you state your wishes clearly while minimizing mistakes and adjusting your plans as they change. Because significant savings can result from thorough, informed planning, you should seriously consider working with a tax advisor in addition to your estate planning attorney.

 Law Firm Conestee, SC
2.

Maximizing
Your Estate

If there were one overriding theme of estate planning, it would be maximizing what you plan to leave behind. Thinking through how each of your assets will be distributed is crucial to your estate. Your decisions may change depending on the type of asset, its size, how old you are, and several other factors. With an attorney on your side, you will gain a thorough understanding of what actions you should take to care for your family while minimizing expenses like taxes and court fees.

Estate Planning Law Conestee, SC
3.

Inheritance, Estate,
and Gift Taxes

One of the biggest parts of maximizing what you're leaving behind is to minimize taxes. Federal taxes on estates and gifts are incredibly high. Both forms of taxes usually have exemption limits, which means you can give up to a specific amount without being taxed. Your lawyer can achieve that by using the gift tax exemption to move assets while you are still alive. This strategy maximizes how much your beneficiaries will receive.

Inheritance taxes are often based on the value of your estate and paid prior to asset distribution to your beneficiaries.

 Estate Planning Attorney Conestee, SC

Choosing the
Executor of Your Will

The executor of your estate plays a key role in your affairs. Their responsibilities include carrying out the terms of your will and seeing the estate settlement process through until the end. Obviously, such a role demands a qualified person. Choosing your executor isn't an easy decision. The person you select should be great at managing money, be savvy financially, and show an ability to be patient. That's because the executor is tasked with:

  • Collecting Your Assets
  • Paying Outstanding Bills
  • Submitting Tax Returns
  • Petitioning the Court for Documents
  • Distributing Assets to Your Beneficiaries
 Estate Planning Lawyer Conestee, SC

If the person that you choose as executor is inexperienced with the estate settlement process, it is recommended that they lean on an estate planning attorney in Conestee, SC for guidance. It should be noted that you may appoint more than a single executor to your estate. This is common when two individuals have complementary personalities or skill sets.

The Benefits of Estate Planning
in Conestee, SC

One of the biggest benefits of planning your estate is the peace of mind it brings to you and your family. With the help of our expert estate planning attorneys, you have the power to protect your assets, privacy, and children's welfare. You can also potentially save money on taxes or even avoid probate. By having your wishes legally documented before death or incapacity, you can minimize any impact on your beneficiaries and take control of your legacy. Without a comprehensive estate plan, you're leaving the future of your loved ones in the hands of the South Carolina court system.

With an estate plan in place, you can plan for incapacity by using a power of attorney or advanced medical directives. Doing so relieves your loved ones of the burden of asking the court for the authority to fulfill your wishes.

At CDH Law Firm, we are committed to helping you prepare for both the expected and unexpected through years of experience and a fierce dedication to our clients. From establishing trusts to designing business succession plans, we are here to fight for you.

At CDH we offer a "Will Package" that includes 4 necessary documents.

If a husband and wife each purchase reciprocating will packages we give a discount. Reciprocating just means the husband names the wife and the wife names the husband. Those four documents are:

  • Last will and testament
  • Healthcare power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney
  • living will

Common Documents Included
in Your Estate Plan

As mentioned above, everyone's estate planning needs will be different. However, most plans include one or more of the following documents:

1.

Will

Your will is an essential piece of documentation and is often considered the cornerstone of a proper estate plan. Generally speaking, your will is a document that dictates the distribution of your assets after your death. Having an iron-clad will is one of the best ways to make sure that your wishes are communicated clearly. As is the case with most estate planning, it is highly recommended that you work with an estate planning attorney in Conestee, SC, to create and update your will.

The contents of a will typically include:

  • Designation of the executor, who is responsible for adhering to the provisions of your will.
  • Designation of beneficiaries the people who will be inheriting your assets
  • Instructions that dictate how and when your beneficiaries will receive assets.
  • Instructions that assign guardianship for any minor children.

Without a will in place, the State of South Carolina will decide how to distribute assets to your beneficiaries. Allowing the state to distribute your assets is often an unfavorable route to take, since the settlement process may not include what you had in mind for your survivors. Having a will drafted that reflects your wishes will prevent such a situation from happening.

 Law Firm Conestee, SC
2.

Living Will

Despite its name, a living will does not instruct your survivors on what assets go where. Also called an advanced directive, your living will allows you to state your end-of-life medical wishes if you have become unable to communicate. This important document provides guidance to family members and doctors and solidifies certain issues like whether you should be resuscitated after an accident.

For example, it's common to direct that palliative care (care to decrease pain and suffering) always be administered if needed. Conversely, you may state that certain measures are not allowed, like CPR.

Estate Planning Law Conestee, SC
3.

Trusts

Traditionally, a trust is used to minimize estate taxes and maximize other benefits as part of a well-rounded estate plan. This fiduciary agreement lets a trustee hold your assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. There are many ways to arrange a trust to specify when and how your assets are distributed.

With a trust in place, your beneficiaries can avoid going to probate. That means they may be able to gain access to your assets quicker than when they are transferred with a standard will. Assets placed in a trust can pass outside of probate, which will save you and your family time, money, and stress.

There are two distinct trust categories that you should be aware of: revocable and irrevocable.

 Estate Planning Attorney Conestee, SC

Revocable Trust:

Also called a living trust, a revocable trust helps assets circumvent probate. With this trust, you can control your assets while you are still alive. These trusts are flexible and may be dissolved at any point in time. This type of trust becomes irrevocable upon your death. Revocable trusts can help you avoid the pitfalls of probate but be aware that they are usually still taxable.

Irrevocable Trust:

This kind of trust transfers assets out of your estate so that they are not taxed and do not have to go through probate. However, once an irrevocable trust has been executed, it may not be altered. That means that once you establish this kind of trust, you lose control of its assets and cannot dissolve the trust. If your primary goal is to avoid taxes on your estate, setting up an irrevocable could be a wise choice.

When drafted with the help of an estate planning lawyer in Conestee, SC, your trust can also:

Protect Your Legacy:

When constructed properly, a trust can protect your estate from your heirs' creditors. This can be a huge relief for beneficiaries who might need to brush up on money management skills.

Privacy and Probate:

Probate records are made available for public consumption. With a trust, you may have the choice of having your assets pass outside of probate court so that they remain private. In the process, you may also save money that you would lose to taxes and court fees.

Control Wealth:

Because you can specify the exact terms of a trust, you have more control over who receives your assets and when they receive them. As an example, you can set up a revocable trust so that your assets are attainable while you're alive. When you pass, remaining assets are distributed, even in complex situations involving children from multiple marriages.

The Top Estate Planning Law Firm in the Lowcountry

If you know that you need to provide for your family and loved ones after your death, it's time to develop your estate plan. With CDH Law Firm by your side, planning your estate doesn't have to be difficult. However, it does need to be accurate and executed exactly to your wishes something that we have been helping clients achieve for years. Don't leave your legacy up to chance contact our office today and secure your future generations.

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Latest News in Conestee, SC

Conestee Park Has an Amazing Playground, Open Green Space, and Even a Dog Park

If you haven’t been to Conestee Park in Greenville, SC, then we highly recommend you go! This park features two playgrounds that are nature themed, a huge open field to fly kites or laze around in, a shaded picnic pavilion, and even connects to a nature preserve that is an ecological gem in Greenville County.Here’s some Greenville trivia for you. What is the former baseball field of the double-A minor league team, the Greenville Braves? If you’ve been in the area for a while, you know that the Braves used to play at ...

If you haven’t been to Conestee Park in Greenville, SC, then we highly recommend you go! This park features two playgrounds that are nature themed, a huge open field to fly kites or laze around in, a shaded picnic pavilion, and even connects to a nature preserve that is an ecological gem in Greenville County.

Here’s some Greenville trivia for you. What is the former baseball field of the double-A minor league team, the Greenville Braves? If you’ve been in the area for a while, you know that the Braves used to play at the Greenville Municipal Stadium. This is the current home of Conestee Park. What you may not know is that Conestee Park adjoins Lake Conestee Nature Preserve, Greenville’s best nature park!

What you’ll find at Conestee Park

Upon entering the park, you will drive past the ballfield and find the playgrounds and pavilion at the back of the lot. There is plenty of parking. And, in true Greenville fashion, there is a fenced playground for younger children right next to larger playground for the older kids. The playgrounds are nature-themed, with a variety of unique climbing and balancing structures that make this park a kid favorite.

The Conestee pavilion is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen at Greenville parks. With its rows of plentiful square picnic tables, wood-paneled ceilings, and a perfect view of the larger playground, the pavilion is a great place to rest in the shade for a snack or lunch. The pavilion can be reserved for events just like other parks. Right beside the pavilion and playground is a well-maintained bathroom.

In addition to the playground, there is a huge grassy area perfect for kicking a soccer ball or tossing a frisbee. There are even porch swings for the adults to sit on and relax while the children play. Around the lot is a paved path for running and walking. And over to the side is a dog park tucked away in the trees.

But, in my opinion (and my children’s too) one of the best parts about a trip to Conestee Park is that you can easily access Lake Conestee Nature Preserve. Several options are available for walking trails. Each trail has learning stations describing everything from river bed erosion to wild bird life. Trails are clearly marked and areas that are prone to mud have boardwalks. The trails even connect to the extensive Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail. For more about the trails and layout in our KAG guide to Lake Conestee Nature Preserve Guide.

Check out our Guide to Lake Conestee Nature Preserve and see what makes it so special to Greenville, SC.

The large parking lot near the playground is at 840 Mauldin Road in Greenville, SC. This is just a ten minute drive from the Butler Road exit of I-385. Make sure to use this address which is “Greenville Municipal Stadium” in your GPS search. If you search Conestee Park, your map might take you to other entrances to the park.

There’s something for everyone at Conestee Park. Have you ever been?

Officials push to fix Conestee Dam to avoid ‘catastrophic’ break

GREENWOOD, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Tucked away in a cove off Lake Greenwood, Ralph and Lisa Cushing found their dream spot to retire.“We, you know, had big plans of being here the rest of our lives,” said Ralph.But that sunny plan became murky months after they moved in.“I don’t think I want to live on a toxic lake for the rest of my life,” he added.Fifty miles north of the Cushing home sits the ...

GREENWOOD, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Tucked away in a cove off Lake Greenwood, Ralph and Lisa Cushing found their dream spot to retire.

“We, you know, had big plans of being here the rest of our lives,” said Ralph.

But that sunny plan became murky months after they moved in.

“I don’t think I want to live on a toxic lake for the rest of my life,” he added.

Fifty miles north of the Cushing home sits the Conestee Dam.

The stonemasonry dam was completed in 1892 and is standing the test of time.

“Somebody who knew something built a dam that could last that long, but it won’t last forever because nothing does,” said Conestee Nature Preserve Operations Director Erin Knight.

“It is 70 years past its engineered life. It could fail at any time. It could last another ten years; we have no idea. We don’t know if it’s solid, if it has voids in it, and the investigation of that is impossible because as soon as you drill into it, you run into the risk of a cascade failure that could lead to a dam breach,” added Kelly Lowry.

Lowry is the Trustee for the Conestee Dam Restoration Project.

“The immediate aftermath of a dam break would be really catastrophic,” he says. “It’s a South Carolina concern for sure.”

Lake Conestee is full of contaminants from the textile mills that boomed in the Upstate from the 1890s to the mid-20th century.

“There was really little regulation about what could be dumped into rivers, so a lot of that came down the Reedy, and until it came to the lake, which was 130 acres originally, that stuff did not settle out, but it came and slowed right behind the Conestee Dam, and it remains there today,” explained Knight.

The Conestee Nature Preserve inherited the contamination and has managed the area around the lake for the last two decades.

Sediment in Lake Conestee collected by DHEC in 2021 shows concentrations of Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury all above EPA-acceptable standards. There are also higher than acceptable levels of pesticides and PCBs.

“As you get long-term exposure, health concerns could become a problem,” said Furman University Assistant Professor of Water Resources Dr. Gustavo Coelho.

Officials estimated there are between 2 million and 3.25 million cubic yards of sediment in the lake impacted by hazardous materials, enough to fill a football stadium 1.5 to 2 times.

“Most contaminants are contained in the Dam, and in case we have a spill or a break of the Dam those contaminants would go and spread downstream,” said Coelho.

That spread could go down to Lake Greenwood, Lake Murray near Columbia, and Lake Marion towards Charleston.

“It’s pretty much always on our mind. It isn’t just something that occasionally we’ll think about because I see how beautiful the lake is. It’s a big problem that has to get fixed,” said Cushing.

Officials have a solution in mind, creating a new dam a few feet downstream from the current one.

“The two would function really as a whole, they would work together to hold back the river and to hold back the sediments that are behind the existing dam,” said Lowry.

The price tag for that is $47.5 million.

“This is the year to do it, we have everything in place, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be moving forward,” said Knight.

The South Carolina legislature is debating whether to fund the solution. Lowry says the money could also come from private businesses, cities and counties in the area. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of federal funding.

After the new dam is funded, it will take three years to complete.

Copyright 2023 WHNS. All rights reserved.

Conestee Nature Preserve Offers Trails, Education, and Fun for Everyone: Greenville, SC

Conestee Nature Preserve in Greenville, SC opened in 2006, and quickly has become a favorite destination for families across the Upstate. We’ll tell you all about this amazing preserve right in the heart of Greenville.Conestee Nature Preserve is an incredible park with miles of trails, wetlands, boardwalks, educational programs, and lots of hands-on opportunities to learn about the environment, conservation, and participate ...

Conestee Nature Preserve in Greenville, SC opened in 2006, and quickly has become a favorite destination for families across the Upstate. We’ll tell you all about this amazing preserve right in the heart of Greenville.

Conestee Nature Preserve is an incredible park with miles of trails, wetlands, boardwalks, educational programs, and lots of hands-on opportunities to learn about the environment, conservation, and participate in some pretty cool things. We are big fans of the Preserve and can’t wait to tell you all about it here.

Trails at Conestee Nature Preserve

Mountain Biking at Conestee Nature Preserve

Birding at Conestee

Educational Classes for Kids at Conestee Nature Preserve

About Conestee Nature Preserve

First and foremost, it is easy to confuse Conestee Nature Preserve (CNP) with its neighbor, Conestee Park. Managed by Greenville County Recreation, Conestee Park has an enormous playground, stadium, baseball fields, dog park and picnic shelter. For more about Conestee Park check out Kidding Around Greenville’s mom review of Conestee Park.

The nature Preserve boasts 13 miles of trails that crisscross 640-acres of forest and wetlands. In 2020, the Preserve changed its name from Lake Conestee Nature Park to Conestee Nature Preserve to better reflect the park’s environment education and conservation mission.

Since its inception in 2006, the nonprofit has purchased more land and expanded the preserve, making it one of the top nature destinations in Greenville. They host events throughout the year like river cleanups, night hikes, bird watching, homeschool days, educational programs for kids, and even adult events like the Winter Wine Walk, which features wine and food.

Trails at Conestee Nature Preserve

With 13 miles of hiking and walking trails, you can easily get however many miles you’d like of the easy trails. We like to combine them and wander around. Conestee Nature Preserve has a helpful Trail Guide to get you started. We like using AllTrails as well in there to kind of see where we are and help us get to where you want to be.

There are boardwalks throughout the park as well where you can observe all kinds of cool things in the water like salamander eggs, salamanders, turtles, fish, ducks, geese, and lots of different kinds of birds. There are 11 observation decks so no shortage of places to check out the local wildlife.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail even goes through the heart of the Preserve. In the spring, be sure to look for all the cool wildflowers. We like using the free Seek app to identify them. Just don’t pick any and follow the Leave No Trace principles.

Mountain Biking at Conestee Nature Preserve

It may not be widely known but there are mountain biking trails at Conestee Nature Preserve. The trails are accessed by parking at 415 Churchill Circle, Greenville. They are located on the Brushy Creek Lands and are used by both pedestrians and bikers so trail etiquette is important.

The Preserve asks that bikes go right on trails on even days, and left on odd. Pedestrians should go left on even days, and right on odd. You can see the trails on this map.

Birding at Conestee Nature Preserve

Other than hiking and biking, there are many other fun things to do at Conestee Nature Preserve. CNP is one of our favorite destinations for birdwatching. The National Audubon Society has designated the Preserve as an Important Bird Area of Global Significance, and over 220 bird species have been reported by the Greenville County Bird Club. You can join the Greenville County Bird Club on a guided bird trip in the Preserve on the third Saturday of every month.

They do a short and long walk so you can choose what suits you best.

Educational Programs at Conestee Nature Preserve

We have been to so many of the Preserve’s educational programs and have loved all of them. Here are some of the different programs they offer.

Ever seen an ant zombie or get up close to a snake? It’s all possible if your school group does a field trip at the Preserve! They offer field trips from pre-K all the way through high school and adhere to the South Carolina Science Standards. The field trips fill up really fast so if your group wants to do it, get in touch with them well before the beginning of the next school year.

Field trips are free for public schools. The cost for private schools are $10/student for a standard field trip (3.5-4 hours long) and $8/student for a two-hour field trip. For homeschoolers, the cost is $10/student, $5/adult or child ages 3 and 4 for a standard field trip; $8/student, $4/adult for two-hour field trip.

If you have been looking for educational but fun classes for your kids, then you are in luck! Conestee Nature Preserve offers classes for kids ages 2 through middle school! Classes are offered monthly, and they even have some specialized homeschool classes and adult classes you may want to check out. Some of the adult classes include themes like rain barrel workshops, guided hikes, and birding! Tickets must be purchased ahead of time.

Preschool Nature Discovery Club (Knee-High Naturalist)

For younger children ages 2 – 4 years old, this spectacular program gets your kids outdoors learning about local wildlife. Cee, our instructor during our hour long class, was amazing! She speaks to every child with kindness, making the class interesting and fun, while creating a fun craft to go along with our lesson.

For our class in February, we started off reading a book about the subject we would be studying, in our case, metamorphosis. The classes have a different theme each month and correspond with what is going on during that time of year. We then explored logs for larvae and beetles, and the kids were so excited to find some critters crawling around on the logs. Afterward, we made a fun craft lighting bug that paired with the theme while reading another book and talking about what we saw.

The class is an excellent bite-size science lesson for littles, allowing them to engage with nature and look a little closer at the world around them. Classes are available twice per month, usually on a Thursday morning or Saturday morning, during the school year.

Nature Discovery After School Program: Elementary and Middle School Classes

Nature Discovery is a really cool program that gives exclusive access to elementary and middle school students to parts of the Preserve that the general public cannot go to. Kids can explore well beyond anything they could if they just visited the Preserve and this lets them dig deeper into the environments present and learn all about the different wildlife and seasonal cycles.

We did a salamander-focused Nature Discovery with the middle school group and had such a fun time! We learned what the eggs look like, got to search for them, hold them, and look at them under a microscope. We even got to search around to find a salamander, which one of the kids in our group. It was the coolest thing. Like the themes for the younger kids, these classes also follow the seasons and what is happening that time of year.

The staff at the Preserve are so passionate about their jobs and it’s hard not to have some of that passion rub off on the students while there.

Nature Discovery is offered in the fall and spring and you can sign up for one class or the semester. They meet every other week in the late afternoons. The cost is $10/session or $60 for all eight sessions.

The Preserve offers multiple homeschool days throughout the year but they sell out quickly. This is a drop-off program and you must reserve tickets in advance. You can stay tuned to their events page or subscribe to their email newsletter for the latest updates on when those dates are released.

Visiting Conestee Nature Preserve

Conestee Nature Preserve is open daily sunrise to sunset. While there is no admission, the Preserve kindly asks for a donation of $3/person. All proceeds go to supporting the Preserve. It is entirely a nonprofit and funded by donations.

CNP has a brand new little shop, which you can check out at the main entrance near the playgrounds. You can purchase CNP-branded merch.

Dogs are allowed at the park but they must be on leash at all times.

Follow Conestee Nature Preserve on Facebook to get the most up-to-date information on trail closures. The Preserve often floods and sometimes these waters can damage or close trails.

There is absolutely no swimming at Conestee Nature Preserve, for humans or animals. The lake was created when the Reedy River was dammed at the Conestee Mill in 1892. The lake originally covered about 130 acres, but over the years industrial waste and discharge filled about 90% of it with sediment so toxic that the lake was classified a Superfund site. Safety studies of the brownfield site were completed, and it was determined that the best course of action would be to leave the toxic sediment in place.

Conestee Nature Preserve 840 Mauldin Road, Greenville (there are four other entrances to trails, which you can view on the Conestee website)Conestee Nature Preserve Website | Conestee Nature Preserve Facebook

Love bird watching? Be sure to read our article about Upstate, SC birds at Lake Conestee.

What is your favorite place to visit in Conestee Nature Preserve?

'We're gambling every day:' Lake Conestee dam remains a flooding and environmental risk

When severe flooding hit parts of Greenville County on Feb. 6, Conestee Foundation Executive Director Dave Hargett thought it might be the day the 128-year-old Lake Conestee dam — and the 2.3 million cubic yards of toxic sediment it contains — finally gave way and washed downstream.But it didn't. And if there's good news, it's that the dam is still just in "poor" condition — it hasn't failed yet."We're gambling every day," Hargett said.Dams that are considered in "...

When severe flooding hit parts of Greenville County on Feb. 6, Conestee Foundation Executive Director Dave Hargett thought it might be the day the 128-year-old Lake Conestee dam — and the 2.3 million cubic yards of toxic sediment it contains — finally gave way and washed downstream.

But it didn't. And if there's good news, it's that the dam is still just in "poor" condition — it hasn't failed yet.

"We're gambling every day," Hargett said.

Dams that are considered in "poor condition" need "remedial action" and have uncertainties that identify a "potential dam safety deficiency," according to DHEC. DHEC also says if a dam is in poor condition, further investigations and studies are necessary.

The next level, "unsatisfactory," calls for immediate or emergency action. A December 2019 DHEC inspection confirmed the Conestee dam remains in poor condition.

Hargett said the toxic sediment trapped behind the dam is responsible for the dam's poor rating.

The inspection also noted:

It's been 20 years and four engineering studies since the Conestee Foundation bought the Lake Conestee site with state funds from the Colonial Pipeline settlement. Colonial Pipeline, headquartered in Georgia, had seven spills from 1996 to 1999 and paid millions in settlements to South Carolina, landowners and federal Clean Water Act fines.

Now, a new dam — to be built 10 feet downstream of the existing dam — should be completed by the end of 2022, according to a 2019 study completed by Lexington-based engineering group Kleinschmidt.

Hargett said he's confident he'll raise the money to complete the dam by the end of 2022, but ReWa CEO Graham Rich, a stakeholder in the dam project, said the completion date is ambitious.

"We have not been approached to fund any of it," the CEO of the water treatment plant told The Greenville News. "We're in support of repairing and replacing the dam, but there's still a lot of work that needs to be worked out. One, being able to get the land just to do the work."

Another key stakeholder, Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven said he's not sure about the timeline, but that there is a "sense of urgency" surrounding the project.

Flooding effects on Conestee: 'Trash jam' builds at Lake Conestee dam

Losing the dam would be an economic and environmental catastrophe

Before the 1960s, the Lake Conestee dam served hydroelectric functions. Now, it only serves as a waste containment structure. If it were to fail, it would be catastrophic, Hargett said.

All the toxic sediment the dam is holding back would make its way down the Reedy River and into Boyd Mill Pond and Lake Greenwood — which provides water for Greenwood and Laurens counties.

"If we lost the dam, it wouldn't just be an environmental catastrophe, it would be an economic catastrophe," Hargett said.

The Conestee mill is also downstream from the dam, and part of the land needed for the project is owned by WCM Global Wealth, which owns the mill property.

"We met with (Hargett) about a month ago to discuss the findings of the dam study and how it could affect the mill property. We have not come to any type of agreement on future plans," WCM Global Wealth real estate director Todd Hardaway said in an email to The News.

ReWa has an interest in the new dam, because the dam crosses the Reedy River where ReWa discharges treated water.

"The concern would be that if there were a failure and those sediments were released what it would do long term for the river and our ability to discharge into the river," ReWa CEO Graham Rich told the News.

If the dam were to fail, ReWa could most likely continue to discharge but would have more restrictions. It would also have to work with DHEC on a new solution.

Hargett said simply cleaning up the toxic sediment isn't an option.

"It would be well over a billion dollars, a billion dollars to clean it up," Hargett said. "You can't practically do it. It would be more harmful."

From the late 19th century through most of the 20th century, Greenville was a leader in the textile industry — and dyes released into the river many years ago contributed to the toxins in the sediment on the upstream side of the dam today, Hargett said.

"Either we can allow failure, or we can step up," Hargett said.

New dam, new owner

The new dam will cost $65 million, according to Hargett. That includes construction of the dam, creation of a new entity to own the dam and a long-term care endowment. The existing dam is on the National Register of Historic places and will remain in place, Hargett said.

"The price is not just the construction, the price includes all of these other things which are very important... it includes creating a new owner," Hargett said. "We don't want to own this anymore. It's too much liability."

Hargett said he's still working out the details on who will own the new dam.

"Everybody agrees we gotta do something now," Hargett said. But, "Nobody wants to get their wallets out."

Hargett said $6.5 million will come from public stakeholders, and $1 million of that was approved by a proviso by the South Carolina House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 19.

Hargett said $58.5 million would come from private entities, but he would not provide specifics.

Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven said the county does not have the money in its budget to contribute to the project.

Instead, Kirven said one of the private entities they're talking to is Duke Energy — one of the "corporate companies that remain in place that were present when the problem was started," Kirven said.

Ryan Mosier who works in communications for Duke Energy said the company has been a part of "important conversations among many stakeholders in and near Greenville County concerning the future of Lake Conestee dam."

"We look forward to working with these groups on a plan that serves the long-term needs of all involved," Mosier said in an email.

And if Hargett doesn't raise the funds for the dam? The dam could become a National Priority List site, he said.

National Priority List sites are "sites of national priority among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories," according to the Environmental Protection Agency website.

New Lake Conestee dam cost estimates broken down:

Previous Conestee coverage: Lake Conestee Nature Park rebrands as a preserve

Contact Genna at gcontino@gannett.com or on Twitter @GennaContino.

Upstate, SC Birds: Birds and Birding at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

My family enjoys visiting Lake Conestee Nature Preserve not just because of its wonderful play areas but for its easy trails that are teeming with wildlife. I didn’t realize until recently that Lake Conestee Nature Preserve is an Upstate, SC birds watcher paradise with almost 200 different species of birds.I’m so excited that Paul Serridge from the Greenville County Bird Club has agreed to share with us m...

My family enjoys visiting Lake Conestee Nature Preserve not just because of its wonderful play areas but for its easy trails that are teeming with wildlife. I didn’t realize until recently that Lake Conestee Nature Preserve is an Upstate, SC birds watcher paradise with almost 200 different species of birds.

I’m so excited that Paul Serridge from the Greenville County Bird Club has agreed to share with us more about the birds at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve and the presentations and free guided bird walks that they offer to the Greenville Community. All of the following photos are taken by local Greenville County Bird Club member Don Faulkner and depict birds that you can look for at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve.

Birds at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

Are you interested in birds and want to know more?

Cedar Waxwing (Photo Credit: Don Faulkner) – learn more about the Cedar Waxwing

There are currently 976 species of birds on the ABA (American Birding Association) checklist for the area covered by the Continental US and Canada.

Wood Duck (Photo Credit: Don Faulker) – learn more about the Wood Duck

There are 472 species on the official bird list for South Carolina.

And….there are 192 species on the checklist for Lake Conestee Nature Preserve right here in Greenville. You can find the checklist at http://gcbirdclub.org/conestee

Red-shouldered Hawk (Photo Credit: Don Faulkner) – learn more about the Red-shouldered Hawk

In other words, a birding bonanza is right here on your doorstep in Greenville. Of course, many of the birds found at Conestee are common and some will visit backyard feeders and are well known. The accompanying photographs by Don Faulkner show some of the species regularly found in the park but which many people are not aware of in our local area.

Killdeer (Photo Credit: Don Faulkner) – learn more about the Killdeer

Free Guided Bird Walks at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve*

The Greenville County Bird Club (GCBC) offers free guided bird walks multiple times every month at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve (LCNP). Details can be found on the outings page of the GCBC website. Check the website before heading out, because the club occasionally adds walks or changes the weekend. It is not necessary to be a GCBC member to participate. (Please note that minor children should be accompanied by an adult.)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Photo Credit: Don Faulker) – learn more about the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Birding Events at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

In addition to exploring the beauty of the Preserve, you can also participate in any of their events. They offer small Community Events and Youth Programs. Their Annual Events are larger in size and include Hops & Herons in the fall and the Great Blue Gathering in the Spring. They also offer occasional bird-watching events. You can stay tuned to their Events page for more details.

More Birding Opportunities

Have you seen any of these birds at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve?

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