Bringing back the beach: Stabilization underway at Folly Beach County Park
Following the recent approval of state and federal permits to begin reconstruction, the Folly Beach County Park Shore Stabilization Project is now in progress. While the park remains closed to the public at this time, the goal of the stabilization project is to replenish the beach and provide beach access for public use in the future, while carefully taking into account the site’s many environmental factors.
After a comprehensive study on the property and its habitats by Coastal Science and Engineering in 2012, CCPRC applied for permits with the Army Corps of Engineers to renourish the beach at Folly Beach County Park (FBCP) and build a structure called a groin that would extend 745 feet out to sea. Based on results from the study, the construction of the terminal groin will help retain the beach of FBCP over time.
In March and April of 2013, these permits were approved at the state and federal level. Contractors were selected and work has begun on the site, following a detailed timetable. In order to avoid interfering with the turtle habitat and nesting season, this timetable must be closely followed. To stay on track and for safety reasons, perimeter fencing now surrounds the parkland in order to keep visitors off of the property.
At its core, the project recommended by Coastal Science and Engineering involves renourishing the beach using sand excavated from a shoal in the Folly River, and building a terminal groin at the south end of the southernmost parking area. Specifically, the beach will be renourished with up to 415,000 cubic yards of sand excavated from a borrow area in the river, which contains approximately 450,000 cubic yards of sand.
Material will be piped from the borrow, following an easement established under the federal Folly River navigation project. Groin construction will take place coinciding with renourishment so that the newly constructed berm will provide a platform on which to build the groin. It will trap and hold sand until it has reached capacity, at which time the southerly flowing sand will bypass the structure. The groin will be built from steel sheet piles, with a protective concrete cap and armor-stone toe protection.
Folly Beach County Park is one of three beachfront parks managed by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC). In addition to Isle of Palms County Park and Kiawah Beachwalker Park, FBCP has served as a public beach access area for thousands of area residents since its opening in 1982. In August 2011, the park sustained severe damage from Hurricane Irene. Erosion breached FBCP’s dunes, washed out parking lots, and rendered certain facilities inaccessible, forcing closure of the property. The closure eliminated public access and parking for over 400 cars on the west end of Folly Island. Since that time, CCPRC’s other beach parks have seen dramatically increased attendance levels.
The goal of the Folly Beach Shore Stabilization Project is to allow for the reopening of the park foremost for public beach access, providing space for approximately 200 vehicles, plus lifeguards on staff seasonally. Future plans may also provide for portable restrooms and concessions. Furthermore, renourishing the beach not only adds public access, but also restores and protects the resources of FBCP from erosion and storm events. Secondarily, the restoration will provide a beach and dune area that will facilitate sea turtle nesting and shorebird habitat.
Stay tuned to the website – www.ccprc.com/BringBackTheBeach - for regular updates on the status of the project and the future opening of this beloved park. Charleston County Park staff are working hard to “bring back the beach.”