The leadership of the Town of Mount Pleasant has been focused on the Crab Bank Restoration project for several years now and has worked with all parties to ensure that it is done in a manner that protects our town’s valuable natural resources and its local economy.
We are grateful to hear that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District is committed to a re-evaluation of the design and placement of the dredge spoil in the restoration of this unnatural, man-made bank at the mouth of Shem Creek.
Shem Creek, Hog Channel going west, and the federally designated channel going east are among Mount Pleasant’s most important natural resources. They are the lifeline of our historic shrimp fleet and many marine-oriented businesses. Mount Pleasant has invested greatly in the protection and utilization of these resources. Public parks have been built, the Wando Shrimp Dock for processing seafood from the shrimping fleet has been acquired and is undergoing transformation.
The beautiful pedestrian bridge over the creek was just completed, and a citizens’ committee, aided by engineers, planners, and town staff concluded its four years of work and issued its Area Management Plan for Shem Creek on July 17, 2019. All of this work and investment is dependent upon the maintenance of deep water in these resources.
The economic impact on Mount Pleasant from man-made shallowing of these natural resources could well exceed $100 million over time. The effect on the people of the community from this shallowing, on workers, recreation seekers, business owners, environmentalists and residents could be catastrophic. The cost to Mount Pleasant to reverse the shallowing by dredging is well beyond our abilities.
The restoration of Crab Bank must protect these natural resources from man-made shallowing. In this regard, the placement location of the dredged spoil is critical. Crab Bank is not nature’s product – it was dumped there during harbor dredging in the 1950s. That is why town council authorized over $100,000 for a study of the 50 year migration of Crab Bank, a study conducted by a respected engineering firm. Its conclusions have been shared with the public, and we know that it has designated placement boundaries which build a longer lasting bird rookery while substantially reducing the rate of shallowing of Shem Creek, its mouth and approaches.
This is the win-win solution I announced was possible over one year ago, and I know that all 90,000 of us welcome the Corps’ announcement that it will re-evaluate the placement area in this fast-changing maritime environment.
This is now an opportunity for Mount Pleasant, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, our Federal representatives and local leaders to join together to ensure that we have a pelican rookery without sacrificing Mount Pleasant to build it.