Monday, November 8, 2010

Interview with Lake Wateree State Park Manager, Adin Fell.

Click here for the first post in this series and table of contents.

03 Fell PhotoLake Wateree State Recreation Area has a new Park Manager. Mr. Adin Fell. I was fortunate to catch him between tasks here on the Park this afternoon.

Mr. Fell was born and raised on a large corn and soybeans farm in Kansas, Illinois. That’s in East Central Illinois. But with his Father’s encouragement he left the farm to study forestry at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

02 Fell PhotoNow, you may recall hearing about the forestry and parks management programs at Southern Illinois University during interviews with other South Carolina park managers. It’s one of the best programs in the country, and South Carolina has recruited a number of their graduates.

ClickToListenAfter graduation Mr. Fell worked a few months with an urban tree company, putting his college major to use and gaining useful experience. Then, instead of joining the Illinois State Park Service, where he’d spent a couple of summers as an intern, he had the good fortune to come to South Carolina.

ClickToListenThrough a conversation with an old friend, now manager at Hamilton Branch Recreation Area, Mr. Fell learned that Edisto Beach had an opening. He applied, and soon was working at Edisto Beach State Park. Where he stayed for a little over a year.

Talk about good luck! What a place to visit. Though Mr. Fell was there to work, not visit. And to learn what was expected of those who join South Carolina’s Park Service. He found senior staff there eager and able mentors.

01 Fell PhotoAfter a year or so at Edisto Beach, Mr. Fell moved to Dreher Island State Recreation Area on Lake Murray as an entry-level Park Ranger. And from there to Hickory Knob State Resort Park. Note the diversity of experience. Dreher Island is very different from Edisto Beach. And Hickory Knob is very different from both of them. Hickory Knob’s “Resort Park” designation is no empty affectation. In addition to RV and tent camping, they maintain a busy restaurant, a skeet range, and an 18-hole golf course. Sounds like a great place to visit. But a challenge to manage! It’s on my “must-visit” list.

After these years of diverse experience, Mr. Fell was promoted to assistant manager at Santee State Park. You may recall our interview there with Park Manager Nathan Maiwald. Again, a unique setting, requiring different responsibilities. Lake Marion and its surrounding environment is quite different from either Lake Murray or Lake Thurmond.

ClickToListenI then asked Mr. Fell for his first impressions of this Park. His response was interesting. First, he mentioned its size. Only 238 acres. Not large as state parks go. Second he mentioned the visitors, whether to camp or day visitors. He said many of them are repeat visitors. Folks who’ve been coming here since the Park was opened. That’s certainly true. I see many of the same folks camping here year after year.

05 Fell PhotoWe then talked about the Park’s recreational resources. Most important, of course, is fishing. Whether from a boat or from the shore of this island. Lake Wateree State Park also maintains a beautiful hiking trail. It’s only about a mile long, and “fairly easy.” I’m hoping to walk it again before leaving this time. So stay tuned!

I didn’t realize that this Park maintains group camping facilities. The path leading to them is right near the Park entrance, before crossing the causeway. Scouts and other organizations are welcome. It’s in a beautiful spot.

The real draw here, though, has to be this beautiful lake. Have a look at this!

ClickToListenI asked Park Manager Fell a question I’ve wanted to ask for some time now. The difference in perspective between that of a park manager and a park visitor. Again, his response was interesting. He began by saying that the perspective shouldn’t be all that different, since park managers should try to see their parks through the visitors’ eyes. But he added interesting details. 

In closing, I had to ask about the store maintained by Lake Wateree State Park. They call it the “Tackle Shop.” And they do offer what appears to me to be a comprehensive collection of fishing tackle. All focused on the sort of fish available in Lake Wateree.

06 Fell PhotoBut there’s much more than fishing tackle in this store. Even grocery items, such as fresh milk and bread! Imagine trying to maintain those supplies, given the rise and fall of Park visitorship! Add to this camping supplies. And I don’t mean just smores here! Lots of RV and tent camping hardware and other camping supplies that you wouldn’t be likely to find even in the camping sections of big-box stores.

ClickToListenClothing, pharmacy items, and a wide range of gift items as well. Don’t be fooled by the “tackle shop” sign, or the small size of the building. Be sure to stop in and look around. You’re likely to find what you need without a long drive to a neighboring town.

Thanks again to Mr. Adin Fell, Park Manager, for his generous contribution of time and expertise to the CarolinaConsidered Project.

And stay tuned. Lots more to come about this beautiful Park.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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