Early in 2018, the federal government announced a program under the U.S. Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that would fund ten projects supporting beneficial uses of dredged material. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) submitted a proposal for this pilot program to cover 100% of the construction costs of restoring the Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary with beneficial dredged material from the Post-45 Charleston Harbor Deepening Project and was notified just prior to the Christmas break that the agency’s proposal has been chosen as one of ten successful pilot projects under the program.
“The federal funds from this award will allow SCDNR to work with Audubon South Carolina, the Coastal Conservation League, and Coastal Expeditions to focus on what we thought was out of reach – working on natural stabilization measures, such as living shorelines, that will increase the lifespan of the island, as well as increase diversity of habitat for shorebirds,” said Felicia Sanders, seabird and shorebird biologist for SCDNR. The award of the WRDA funds means that 100% of the construction costs for Crab Bank could be covered by the federal government. However, many unknowns remain as to when those funds will be made available to the Charleston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and if they will be here in time for when the dredging occurs in the areas next to Crab Bank.
“Either way, excitement for coastal bird conservation in South Carolina continues to build, and as each day passes, it appears that Crab Bank restoration is becoming more of a reality and less of a dream,” said SCDNR Office of Environmental Programs Director Lorianne Riggin. “If the WRDA funds arrive in time and cover the entire costs of construction, stabilization options for Crab Bank such as building oyster reefs