Fishing resources

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Corps of Engineers Announces Start of Construction on Crab Bank Restoration Project


By Glenn Jeffries for Island Eye News

After several years of planning and fundraising, the anticipation is over and the excitement of construction activity begins with the restoration of the Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary, nestled in Charleston Harbor between the tip of Sullivan’s Island and Patriots Point.

The Charleston District of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced today that the contractor, the Virginia-based Norfolk Dredging Company, has started moving hydraulic hoses in the area, to ensure its dredger is well named “Charleston” begins pumping operations around September 19. 14, 2021.

The restoration project is sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and involves the one-time placement of approximately 660,000 cubic meters of compatible material from the Charleston Harbor Deepening “Post 45” project. When complete, the project will create approximately 32 acres of prime above-average high water nesting habitat for coastal birds. The project will benefit a wide variety of nesting and migrating seabird species that used the island before Hurricane Irma removed the last piece of elevated land available for nesting in 2017.

Boaters and paddlers near Shem Creek and the Old Village of Mount Pleasant shoreline will need to take extra precautions. This type of dredging operation is not typical in this popular and busy part of the port and leads to safety concerns. Please keep in mind that in addition to the dredge there will be floating and submerged pipelines and ancillary equipment which are dangerous for those who get too close to the construction area. Additionally, residents and businesses may experience noise and lights that are not normally present due to proximity to the shore. Earthmoving machines equipped with lights and sound signals required by safety regulations will be mobilized and will operate 24 hours a day. While this may create short-term inconvenience, the long-term benefits of a restored crab bank will be a major benefit to our community and the region’s rapidly growing outdoor and nature tourism economy.

“The safety of our operations is of paramount importance to workers and the public,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Johannes, Charleston District Commander. “We are delighted that this important work is starting, but it is difficult and we want it to be completed as safely and quickly as possible. Stay away from contractor’s equipment, land your craft on the restored footprint, and be very careful of submerged and floating pipelines, especially in poor visibility.

Planning and fundraising for the restoration of Crab Bank, owned and managed by SCDNR, began in 2018. Federal grants and contributions raised by a coalition of nonprofit groups, businesses and individuals will fund the majority of work. The opportunity to restore Crab Bank was made possible through a cost-shared partnership between USACE and SCDNR which was supported by a sustained public fundraising campaign organized by the SC Coastal Bird Conservation Program. Dozens of businesses and hundreds of small individual donors have contributed to the campaign.

“This project would not have been possible without the incredible support and assistance of the Audubon, South Carolina community, the Coastal Conservation League and Coastal Expeditions, as well as all of the individual donors who have contributed to this project. effort, ”said Robert Boyles, director of SCDNR. “Communication, fundraising and awareness has been key to the success we hope to see this spring as the birds look back on Crab Bank’s newly established footprint. ”

Construction is expected to take around two months, and both agencies are asking boaters to notice the activity from afar and be aware of their speed when in surrounding areas. We want the project to be completed in a safe manner for entrepreneurs, as well as those who fish, sail and paddle near Shem Creek and the Old Village shore.

The images above are from similar and recent projects carried out by USACE which are representative of what work and equipment could look like over the next several weeks at Crab Bank. [photos courtesy USACE — available upon request]