Grants awarded to establish living shorelines in Beaufort County

Volunteers form an assembly line to move bags of oyster shells into place along the shoreline....
Volunteers form an assembly line to move bags of oyster shells into place along the shoreline. This is one of several strategies that will be employed at Parris Island to improve the natural infrastructure of the area's shorelines.(S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources)
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 9:01 AM EST
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - More than three acres of Atlantic shoreline near Parris Island will be turned into a living shoreline thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said the project will “employ a diverse group of volunteers in oyster reef construction” around Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

The agency said the four-year project will ultimately protect 390 acres from climate impacts.

“Parris Island values our partnerships with the local community and environmental organizations,” Parris Island Environmental Division Director Tracey Spencer said. “This grant funding provides us the opportunity to continue our art-of-the-small by implementing nature-based solutions to enhance resiliency within the Lowcountry.”

The project is part of a broader collaboration between NFWF, the United States Department of Defense and private sector partners that will provide more than $136 million to 88 natural infrastructure projects in 29 states.

“We are excited for the opportunity to help preserve the MCRD, Parris Island and to work as partners with the Department of Defense,” Conservation League Executive Director Faith Rivers James said. “We look forward to continuing our work in the South Coast, engaging and educating community members about the importance of protecting and restoring the local estuarine natural resources.”

SCDNR said a living shoreline uses natural materials to combat erosion and stabilize shorelines. In South Carolina, that means using two of the more dominant features of the environment, oyster shells and salt marsh grasses.

Restoration projects like living shorelines reduce storm surge impacts, dissipate wind and wave energy and provide homes to wildlife, the agency said.

“Living shorelines like these at Parris Island can also play a vital role in current efforts to protect a million-acre swath of salt marsh from North Carolina to northeast Florida that is at risk of disappearing under rising sea levels and that is crucial to recreational and commercial fishing, waterfowl hunting, birding, and other activities,” Lora Clarke, an officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ conserving marine life in the United States project, said.

The NFWF awarded the grant to the Coastal Conservation League, SCDNR, Sustainability Institute, MCRD Parris Island and the Pew Charitable Trust.