Early in 2018, the federal government announced a program under the U.S. Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that would fund ten projects supporting beneficial uses of dredged material.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) submitted a proposal for this pilot program to cover 100% of the construction costs of restoring the Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary with beneficial dredged material from the Post-45 Charleston Harbor Deepening Project and was notified just prior to the Christmas break that the agency’s proposal has been chosen as one of ten successful pilot projects under the program.
“The federal funds from this award will allow SCDNR to work with Audubon South Carolina, the Coastal Conservation League, and Coastal Expeditions to focus on what we thought was out of reach – working on natural stabilization measures, such as living shorelines, that will increase the lifespan of the island, as well as increase diversity of habitat for shorebirds,” said Felicia Sanders, seabird and shorebird biologist for SCDNR.
The award of the WRDA funds means that 100% of the construction costs for Crab Bank could be covered by the federal government. However, many unknowns remain as to when those funds will be made available to the Charleston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and if they will be here in time for when the dredging occurs in the areas next to Crab Bank.
The SCDNR’s WRDA Crab Bank proposal was submitted in March 2018. In the interim, a highly successful fundraising campaign spearheaded by local and state conservation organizations that support the goals of the South Carolina Coastal Bird Conservation Program was undertaken to raise the estimated amount of cost-share funds needed to ensure restoration of Crab Bank.
Funds raised from that effort will go towards matching the $700,000 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Coastal Resiliency Grant, announced in November. The grant will help stabilize Crab Bank, fund continued research, protection and enhancement of natural coastal habitats to address shrinking populations of coastal birds, and support programs to educate the public about coastal birds. To date, approximately $1.2 million has been raised toward this effort.