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Sea turtles may suffer if S.C. grants erosion-control permit

Discussion in 'Sea turtles' started by Cowboy_Ken, Feb 18, 2015.

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  1. Cowboy_Ken

    Cowboy_Ken Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    February 14, 2015 -By SARITA CHOUREY, SavannahNow.com

    Threatened and endangered sea turtles may take the brunt of new erosion-control structures that property owners hope to build on Daufuskie Island’s shoreline.

    But South Carolina’s natural resources department is urging other regulators to reject the request.

    The Haig Point Club & Community Association wants permission to construct two new erosion control revetments and to build on four existing areas of erosion control. It would mean adding 95 feet of rip-rap on the northern end of Calibogue Sound and a 696-foot revetment on the southern end of the sound. The Beaufort County island stretches 8 square miles and sits between Tybee and Hilton Head islands.

    The application has been on hold pending a response from the community association addressing the concerns of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

    On Friday, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control spokesman Jim Beasley said the Haig Point proposal is still under review.

    Building hardened structures, or creating “armored beaches,” can worsen erosion seaward and adjacent to the structures, particularly on the downdrift side. The result is damage to the habitat of a variety of birds, turtles and other creatures.

    “The construction of a new revetment along this undeveloped shoreline is not warranted and results in an unnecessary encroachment on sensitive public trust resources,” said Susan Davis, coastal environmental coordinator for the DNR in a letter to DHEC in December. “We are not opposed to the 95-foot revetment on the northern end or to the repair of existing revetments in areas where existing infrastructure is threatened.”

    If the sea turtle nests are located seaward of structure, they’re also susceptible to washout, leaving poor nesting habitats and incubation areas of the beaches in front of existing armoring structures.

    The structures can also prevent females from finding good nesting sites, leading to increased rates of the animals going back to the water without nesting, according to DNR.

    Armoring can also shut sea turtles out of the upper regions of the dune system. That forces them to nest at lower elevation where the eggs can drown in water from tidal flooding. It can also upset the conditions that help determine the sex ratio of hatchlings, according to specific studies cited by DNR.

    Davis said Friday that she had not received a response, directly from Haig Point or through the U.S Army Corps of Engineers.

    Haig Point isn’t the only community on Daufuskie looking to change the coastal environment to protect property values.

    The Melrose Property Owners Association wants permission to undertake a beach renourishment project on the Calibogue Sound, facing the southern tip of Hilton Head Island.

    The property owners association says the purpose is to reestablish the eroded beach and provide six to eight years of protection to upland property and structures during normal climate conditions.

    They also claim the project would enhance the nesting habitat of sea turtles.

    However, the District Engineer for the corps’ Charleston District has determined that the renourishment project is “likely to adversely affect” the loggerhead sea turtle, the piping plover, the West Indian manatee and the red knot. The corps is asking either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service — or both — to begin formally consulting on the species and any critical habitat that could be affected.

    DHEC spokesman Cassandra Harris said the agency has not seen an increase in requests for erosion control devices along the beachfront on Daufuskie.

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