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Pawleys Island leaders hoping to dredge inlets due to sand, silt build-up

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 6:44 AM EDT
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PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. (WMBF) - Town leaders in Pawleys Island are considering a proposal to dredge parts of the inlets and creeks.

The creeks, which makes the fishing scene great in Pawleys Island, are having a bit of a circulation issue caused by a build-up of sand in the Midway Inlet.

Pawleys Island Town Council wants to get involved to try and get the issue resolved before it impacts the ecosystem.

“I just enjoy being out in the nature in the creek, trying different strategies and things like that,” said Steve Koralewski, who is visiting Pawleys Island from Ohio.

Koralewski has vacationed in Pawleys Island for the past 17 years. Every year, he takes to Pawleys Island Creek to go crabbing.

“We like going from the water, to the bucket, to cleaning it out, to boiling them,” said Koralewski.

Pawleys Island Mayor Brian Henry wants to make sure Koralewski has plenty of crabs to choose from the next 17 years, which may mean the inlets on either side of Pawleys Island will need some dredging.

“It starts at the inlets, making sure those have good flow and allow good fresh water to wash in and out to the creek,” said Henry. “That’s what keeps it good, healthy and vibrant like you see behind me.”

The mayor says the inlets were last dredged back in 2007, and they have seen plenty of storms and king tides to fill them back in. He added that it has not become a concern for the ecosystem just yet, but it has created some navigational issues for boaters and kayakers, something Koralewski has experienced firsthand.

“I’ve been caught in the plough mud, pretty lost out here a couple years back, and it was a two or three hour ordeal,” Koralewski said.

Fisherman Matthew Tinnell, however, says it will be tough to “hook” a lot of the fishing community on the dredging idea.

“A lot of these shoals and areas that are really shallow are spots where bait and smaller fish seek shelter,” said Tinnell. “In those low tides, they can’t get up in those grasses and they have nowhere else to go but that shallow water away from the deeper fish.”

That’s a perspective Henry and the rest of the town council will have to take into account when they talk about the idea at the next town council meeting Monday.

“We’ve got something very unique here, and those that love Pawleys Island and Litchfield, this is as big a part of their time at the island as it is going to the beach,” said Henry.

Dredging would cost some money, and the town just spent millions of dollars on a beach renourishment project that just wrapped up.

Henry is hoping this is something they can fund with grants and, in the end, protect the creeks that are so important to Pawleys Island.

The mayor says the town council will talk with an environmental expert and go over what this project would require during a meeting Monday night at 5:00 p.m.

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