Richland County should acquire Cook’s Mountain — one of the Columbia area’s most significant natural landmarks — for use as a public nature preserve, a county conservation board agreed Monday.
The Richland County Conservation Commission acknowledged that buying Cook’s Mountain faces many hurdles, including funding. But a board resolution says county ownership of the 1,131-acre property is the best way to maintain public access to “this unique natural resource.”
“This opportunity doesn’t come along daily; this doesn’t come along even once in a lifetime,” said Carol Kososki, the Conservation Commission’s chairwoman. “It is an opportunity for Richland County to preserve this for future generations.”
What will happen to Cook’s Mountain has been a point of discussion in Richland County since the tract went up for sale earlier this year.
A landfill company says it has a deal to buy Cook’s Mountain from its longtime owners, who had for decades allowed the public to use the property as an unofficial nature park. Now, people worry that a new owner could shut off future access and build houses on the top 30 acres, which, unlike the rest of the land, are not protected from development.