Clarks Hill Training Site
The South Carolina National Guard's 218th Regiment is a training regiment located near the east end of Leesburg Road on Fort Jackson (Leesburg Training Center). The regiment's mission is to serve as a training center for Army National Guard and Army Reservists stationed in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The regiment operates the Leesburg Training Center (LTC) and the Clarks Hill Training Center (CHTS). CHTS is located in McCormick County on Lake Strom Thurmond, where the South Carolina National Guard has about 1,200 acres under license. The regiment provides peacetime command and control to two detachments that support LTC's operations and maintenance.
Clarks Hill Training Center contains approximately 308 acres located in McCormick County in the Landrum Branch/Dordon Creek area under lease from the Department of the Army. It also has a limited maneuver permit for an additional 450 acres. The training site can billet approximately 300 soldiers and has dining facilities and training facilities for 200. It also has a repelling tower and land navigation course for individual soldier training. This site had an annual usage rate of 14,671 mandays during last training year.
The Clark Hill Training Site is located on Thurmond Lake, the largest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project east of the Mississippi River, was built between 1946 and 1954 as part of a comprehensive plan of development for the Savannah River Basin. Thurmond Lake is one of the 10 most visited Corps lakes in the nation, serving about seven million visitors annually.
Thurmond Lake is one of the largest inland bodies of water in the South. Mixed strands of pine trees and hardwoods cover the reservoir's 1,200-mile shoreline. More than 100 islands jut above the lake's surface. Project land is home to a diversity of plant and animal types, including the bald eagle. The project has prevented millions of dollars worth of flood damage along the Savannah River. Thurmond Dam is credited with reducing the amount of sediment carried by the river into Savannah Harbor by 22 percent - significantly reducing the harbor's maintenance costs.
When land for J. Strom Thurmond Project was purchased in the late 1940s, much of it had been farmed for generations. Unfortunately, poor soil conservation practices resulted in badly depleted soils which could no longer support row crops. The shift from the agrarian lifestyle earlier this century gave the opportunity for some tracts to revert to forest by natural regeneration. Loblolly pine, shortleaf pine, sweet gum, and elm are the dominant tree species on upland areas. Occasionally small patches of upland hardwoods and longleaf pine are interspersed within pine stands where soil conditions permit. Bottomland hardwoods are common along rivers, creeks, and intermittent streams which enter the lake.
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