From our friends at Coastal Conservation League…
For well over a year now, a group of property owners on Debidue Beach has evaded the law by leaving stacked sandbags in front of their homes—essentially creating an illegal seawall to protect the houses—and ignoring requests by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management to remove them.
Now, these property owners are working with Coastal Carolina University in an attempt to leave the sandbags in place and cover them in sand under the guise of a study. Despite DHEC OCRM staff denying this request, the DHEC Board will hear this issue on January 13. If board members decide to overturn the staff decision, this will have rippling and grim implications for the rest of our state’s beaches.
It’s important to note that the DeBordieu community already has a project underway that will renourish the beach and build groins.
Creating a hard structure that essentially acts as a seawall only serves to protect what’s behind it and results in loss of sand in front of the wall, which means eventual loss of public access and habitat for nesting sea turtles.
We support OCRM considering new tools and technology but stacking sandbags and covering them in sand is not a new concept in beach management, so it doesn’t require a study. It has been tried in other states for decades and almost always ends up harming the beach by increasing erosion and leaving less beach for wildlife and the public.
It is the job of our regulators to protect our beaches for the benefit of all people and wildlife like endangered sea turtles and migratory shorebirds. Any proposed technology or tool that would adversely impact that goal is not only a bad idea, but it is illegal and for good reason.
There is already a committee established to discuss and consider how OCRM should evaluate research proposals and new tools and technologies. The Coastal Conservation League helped create this in partnership with OCRM and SC Beach Advocates. Because this process is still underway, this proposal is ill-timed.
Perhaps the most egregious part of this situation is that there is no process that required this request to go out on public notice, preventing anyone from meaningfully weighing in on the fate of our public trust resources and how the state will manage our beaches. This is unacceptable and dangerous.
If you have questions or want to chat, you can reach me at email@example.com or (843) 725-1290. As always, thank you for your time and engagement on this important issue.
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