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Restoration set to begin seabird sanctuary

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 8:54 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Construction to restore the Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary in Charleston Harbor could begin as soon as Tuesday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District on Monday announced that Virginia-based contractor Norfolk Dredging Company was moving hydraulic pipe into the area for its dredge to begin pumping operations as soon as Tuesday.

The project calls for the one-time placement of approximately 660,000 cubic yards of compatible material from the Charleston Harbor Deepening project to create approximately 32 acres of of prime nesting habitat above mean water for nesting birds.

The project, sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, is expected to benefit the nesting and migrating seabird species that used the sanctuary prior to Hurricane Irma removing the last remaining bit of nesting ground in 2017.

Civil Work Chief Brian Williams says the cost of the project was around $230,000 because the material used was already being dredged.

“The project for Crab Bank cost about $230,000 because we’re already dredging the material anyway,” Williams said. “It was really just the cost difference to place it over there on Crab Bank.”

The project has been in the works since 2018 when the planning and fundraising for the project began. The Corps of Engineers says federal grants along with contributions raised by non-profit groups, businesses and private citizens will fund a majority of the work.

“This project would not have been possible without the amazing community support and assistance from Audubon South Carolina, the Coastal Conservation League, and Coastal Expeditions, as well as all of the individual donors who contributed to this effort,” SCDNR Director Robert Boyles said. “Communication, fundraising and awareness have been key to the success that we hope to see this spring as birds return to the newly established footprint of Crab Bank.”

The Corps of Engineers estimates the project to take approximately two months to complete and are urging those that use the area for recreation to give them a little space during that time.

“The entire process should take about two months,” Williams said. “So really we would encourage folks to give us a little breathing room for two months and then once the equipment is demobilized and moved offf site, get out there, paddle around like you normally would.”

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