MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the restoration of the Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary, a project that started eleven years ago as simply an idea, is now a reality and a safe, predator free sanctuary for many sea and shorebirds.
On April 5, as the shorebird nesting season is underway, organizations who had worked tirelessly to reestablish the depleted island gathered at Alhambra Hall to celebrate a return of threatened birds to the island’s ideal nesting ground .
Gov. Henry McMaster was in attendance for the ceremony. He spoke about how Crab Bank is a great example of how multiple agencies can work together for a common goal.
“This really is a great thing,” said McMaster. “It could not have been done without a lot of people cooperating with each other and understanding how important the environment is to us.”
Some refer to the many coastal islands of South Carolina as our own “Galápagos” and the reestablishment of Crab Bank adds one more island for thousands of shorebirds to use as safe place to rest, lay and hatch their young. Prior to it being washed away by coastal storms over the last decade, the island was where , thousands hatch, are nurtured, and spread their wings as they learn to fly. At night, species from as far away as the tip of South America stop for the night to rest before they continue to points as far north as the Arctic Circle.
In November 2021, through the strength of a federal and state partnership, a coalition of non-profits, and seven weeks of construction, the appropriately named “Dredge Charleston” completed Crab Bank. A crew of 53 worked 24/7 to pump 66,000 dump trucks (660,000 cubic yards) of compatible dredged material to form what would become the landmark legacy of the Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening Project.
“Crab Bank has now become a feature of the Charleston Harbor that can easily be seen and noticed from as far as the Ravenel Bridge,” said Lisa Metheney, senior civilian, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District. “Every time I drive over the bridge, I beam with pride thinking about the fantastic work my team did in getting to today.”
Crab Bank was identified as a beneficial use location for dredged material from the Charleston Harbor deepening project. Shortly after, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources became the project’s non-federal cost-share sponsor. If not for the commitment and partnership of SCDNR and others, the opportunity to put to this sandy material to beneficial use and restore this seabird sanctuary would have been lost for good.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace flew back to the Lowcountry especially for the celebration.
“This is a great example of good government coming together and working for the people and our community,” said Mace.
As the 2022 nesting season begins in earnest with the beginning of Spring, the big news of the day was the first American Oyster Catcher nest was observed on Crab Bank by SCDNR biologists. As the 32-acre island becomes re-colonized, the public is reminded that the island is closed to all landing from March 15 through October 15 to ensure it remains a productive resource and prime nesting habitat.