The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Charleston District, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), and representatives of the Town of Mount Pleasant met on April 12, 2021 to celebrate their agreement on an key adjustment to the placement location of dredged material for the Crab Bank Restoration project.
As a result, the ecology will now be restored and the town will advance its economic revitalization.
Following through on earlier commitments to re-evaluate before construction, the Corps’ recent data collection and discussions with their dredging contractor revealed that the planned construction methods would benefit from an adjusted footprint that is shifted substantially to the southeast.
“The recent adjustment to the Crab Bank restoration project is a true testament to the commitment shown by the US Army Corps of Engineers, SCDNR, and the Town of Mount Pleasant to come up with a viable solution and a location that works for the whole community,” said U.S. Sen. Scott. “I have no doubt the Charleston area will continue to flourish for years to come.”
This adjusted footprint will allow the contractor to take advantage of more areas of existing shallow water to begin their work and also addresses the Town’s concerns by placing dredged materials further to the southeast, shifting the edge of the footprint approximately 1,400 feet further away from the mouth of Shem Creek compared to the previous plan.
“We got the best news this week that we’ve gotten in two and a half years,” says Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie. “I would like to thank Lt. Col. Honderd as well as the staff at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their work and commitment to the citizens and business owners of Mount Pleasant. I would like to also thank U.S. Sens. Graham and Scott and U.S. Rep. Mace for their efforts to achieve an effective solution for all parties.”
All parties desire for this restoration project to be a WIN-WIN for the community. This adjustment to Crab Bank will provide the same level of shorebird nesting habitat benefits as the previous plan, and the restored sanctuary will continue to serve as an ecological and economic asset for the Lowcountry, just like Shem Creek.
“We look forward to the successful completion of this project and to a day in the not-too-distant future when seabirds and shorebirds will return to Crab Bank and visitors will again be able to experience what makes this area so special,” affirmed Robert Boyles, Director of SCDNR.
Construction activity for this Beneficial Use of Dredged Material project using compatible material from the Charleston Harbor Deepening “Post 45” project is expected to begin in September and should only take a couple of months to complete.
“We are excited to soon begin this important project for our community,” said Lt. Col. Rachel Honderd, District Commander. “We are pleased we were able to address the concerns of the Town within the existing constraints of the approved project and appreciate the candid communication of our dredging contractor, Norfolk Dredging Company, as we performed our recent assessment.”
The restoration project is sponsored by the SCDNR and calls for the one-time placement of approximately 660,000 cubic yards of compatible material from the deepened channel.
“All parties worked together on a solution that allows the project to move forward,” said U.S. Sen. Graham. “Thanks to the efforts of local leaders, the Army Corps, the SCDNR, and U.S. Sen. Scott and U.S. Rep. Mace—this common sense decision will benefit the community and the environment. I was honored to be a part of it.”
When finished, the project will create approximately 28 acres of critical nesting habitat for highly threatened populations of shorebirds that make the Lowcountry their home and delight visitors to both the community and Shem Creek.
Photo of Crab Bank courtesy of Adam Boozer / Audubon South Carolina.