Thursday, June 2, 2016

2016 Seabrook Island - Beach Restoration Recognition

Two bucks spotted June 1 in Seabrook Island dunes
The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association released a list of five renourished beaches in America that are worthy of their annual recognition. Seabrook Island is one of only five beaches listed on May 23 as a Best Restored Beach for 2016, and the only one located in the Lowcountry. Topsail Island in North Carolina also made the list along with beaches in Texas, California and Illinois.

Seabrook is located just South of Charleston and slightly North of Edisto and the ACE Basin, including several miles of front beach, and one side of the North Edisto River Inlet. A precious shorebird nesting area known as Deveaux Bank lies just off the beach at Seabrook Island, and brown pelicans, shorebirds (red knot) and other birds are in focus here. To say that all forms of marine life thrives in this estuary would not be an understatement, and renourished beaches can also translate into healthy sand dunes where another suite of songbirds and wildlife can thrive. Congrats to Seabrook Island!

Red Knot with tag in S.C. - photo by Fletcher Smith
To view past blog entires about Beaches and Dunes click on Corolla Beach / OBX - Kill Devil Hills - Bald Head IslandSunset Beach - Holden Beach - Myrtle Beach State Park - Huntington Beach State Park - Folly BeachKiawah Island - Edingsville Beach - Edisto Beach State Park - Tybee Island - Little St. Simon's Island - Gulf Islands - Cedar Bayou

ASBPA press release:
ASBPA logo
To combat ongoing and severe erosion, Seabrook Island management adopted a soft engineering strategy, the cornerstone of which is periodic relocation of Cap’n Sams Inlet. Rather than stabilizing the inlet itself or heavily armoring the shoreline, the inlet is allowed to migrate naturally at ~200 feet per year for about every 15 years over a designated inlet conservation zone ‐ a length of coast that is left in a natural state between each event. Repeated projects, many years apart, allow new sand spit formation and washover habitat sought by certain threatened species, such as the piping plover and red knot.

Each inlet relocation has required more than one attempt to close the old channel – the most difficult aspect of projects like this. With each project, construction efficiencies have improved and the result was ultimately the same: a viable new inlet was created, and the old inlet stayed closed so that sand in the abandoned ebb tidal delta moved onshore and naturally nourished Seabrook Island’s beach. The results have been a cost effective management strategy for maintaining a healthy shoreline. The positive ecological impacts of the project include creating additional dry sand beach above the high tide line for turtle nesting sites and maintaining unvegetated washovers and tidal pool areas for additional piping plover habitat.

The project results in an accreting shoreline downcoast that promotes the formation of healthy dunes to protect the island from tidal surges associated with large storms. The sand that accumulates on the beach is a fine sand from shoals that move in from just offshore that matches the existing sand on the beach perfectly without utilizing offshore sand resources.

“The Seabrook Island restoration project clearly demonstrates the importance of developing a long -term management plan that works with the natural processes to overcome severe erosion,” said Weishar. “This project shows that a beach restoration project can be successful in a dynamic environment if you clearly understand the coastal processes and develop a plan that works with the coastal processes to achieve the restoration of the beach.”

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