The Crab Bank Restoration project uses compatible material dredged from the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project. The project will add 32 acres to the historic shorebird habitat and is slated to complete in the next few months.
The Crab Bank Restoration project uses compatible material dredged from the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project. The project will add 32 acres to the historic shorebird habitat and is slated to complete in the next few months. (Photo Credit: Dennis Franklin) VIEW ORIGINAL

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Construction activity began early this September on the restoration of the Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary, nestled in Charleston Harbor between the tip of Sullivan’s Island and Patriots Point.

The restoration of Crab Bank was identified as a beneficial use alternative for dredged material in 2011 during the feasibility study for the Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening Project. To help offset additional costs, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources stepped up to serve as the project’s required non-federal sponsor.

When finished, the project will create roughly 32 acres of prime nesting habitat for many coastal birds that frequent the Lowcountry. The project uses approximately 660,000 cubic yards of compatible material from the Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening project. Rather than moving the material miles offshore to the ocean placement site, it will be reused in this highly beneficial way, creating a “win-win” for all.

During construction, USACE asks boaters and paddlers in the vicinity of Shem Creek, the Mount Pleasant Old Village shoreline, and the federal navigation channel between Castle Pinckney and Fort Sumter to take extra precautions. This type of operation is not typical in this section of the harbor.

In addition to the aptly-named Dredge “Charleston,” the area will also have several support vessels, floating and submerged pipelines, and auxiliary equipment. These are all hazards to boaters and paddlers in the immediate area.

Boaters and paddlers should keep a safe distance, use slow speeds, and be hyper-aware of submerged and floating pipelines, especially when there is poor visibility. The public should not approach the equipment or the restored footprint. The project can be viewed at a safe distance at locations such as the Pitt Street Bridge, the Shem Creek Boardwalk or Alhambra Hall Park.

Residents and businesses may also experience some noise and lights that are not normally present due to the close proximity of the work to the shoreline. Earthmoving equipment outfitted with lights and audible signals that are required by safety regulations will be mobilized and operate around the clock.

While this may create some short-term inconvenience, the long-term benefits of a restored Crab Bank will be a major benefit to the shorebirds and our community.

“We are thrilled this important work has begun, but it is challenging, and we want it completed as safely and expeditiously as possible,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Johannes, district commander.

Construction is expected to take a few months, depending on weather and equipment.

“As the Charleston District celebrates 150-years of service to both South Carolina and the nation, Crab Bank is just another in a long list of projects we have undertaken to support both the environment and economy,” Johannes said.