Gadsden Creek is one of the Charleston peninsula’s last remaining tidal creek systems. Throughout history the creek and its marsh covered much of the Westside between Spring Street to the South, the Citadel campus to the North, and President Street to the East. During the 1950s and 60s Gadsden Creek’s marsh was transformed into a landfill and eventually the creek was channelized into an L shape. Brittlebank Park (1975) and Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park (1997) are built on portions of the old landfill.
Despite all this Gadsden Creek is still a functioning tidal system. The tide ebbs and flows to the Ashley River through a culvert under Lockwood Blvd. Marsh periwinkles and mud minnows abound. Snowy Egrets and Blue Herons frequent Gadsden Creek and its marsh to feed on small fish and crabs.
The life of the Gadsden Creek system is at a crossroads. The Horizon Project Foundation recently applied for a DHEC Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management “critical area permit” to bury Gadsden Creek in a pipe and fill its marsh. We can do better. Brownfield restoration work in other communities shows urban streams near landfills can be restored and become assets to their communities.
We have a choice: bury the creek and its marsh forever or restore it and turn the creek into a community asset like Brittlebank Park and The Joe? The answer is clear.