Building a Shoreline
The Boyd Living Shoreline will help reduce erosion at East Bay Park and Morgan Park, while creating new habitat for oysters and shrimp.
Our South Carolina shorelines are alive with swaying marsh grasses, water-filtering oysters and darting shrimp. But did you know that the same natural features that give us great fishing and afternoons near the water can also stabilize our shore from erosion?
The future Boyd Living Shoreline will enhance East Bay and Morgan Park in Georgetown, S.C. by helping to control erosion and providing habitat for crab, shrimp, oysters and fish. Find out more about the project below!
Why are we building a one-acre living shoreline instead of a simple sea wall? We’re glad you asked.
Seawalls, which redirect waves to the next unprotected shoreline, sometimes make erosion worse. Living shorelines represent a natural solution to absorbing wave energy. They also have amazing added benefits:
- Keep Water Clean - A grown oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day!
- Provide Wildlife Habitat (for shrimp, crab and fish) - You'll notice the best fishing is around healthy oyster reefs and marshes.
- Reduce or reverse Erosion - Oyster reefs and breakwaters trap sediment behind them, eventually rebuilding a shoreline for new marsh grass to grow.
Boyd Living Shoreline
- Launch project. (DONE)
- Hire contractors for design and monitoring. (DONE)
- Submit permits.
- Coastal Carolina University conducts pre-installation baseline monitoring.
- Permits are approved.
- Construction begins.
- Complete construction.
- Coastal Carolina University conducts post-installation monitoring.
The Big Picture
The Nature Conservancy's efforts at East Bay Park and Morgan Park build on achievements at places like Goldbug Island, where TNC and several partners installed a living shoreline near Charleston. The project demonstrates the value and effectiveness of nature-based solutions for restoring areas of marsh that were experiencing significant erosion.
The reef was designed to ensure that the materials were elevated out of the mud, promote optimal oyster growth and attenuate wave energy. Due to the soft nature of the sediment, the base of the reef is made of wooden pallets, which support a layer of Oyster Castles™ and a layer of bagged oyster shell.
Today, Goldbug Island's living shoreline--at 225' long, 4' wide, and 1.5' high--remains the longest reef installed by TNC to date. The Conservancy's staff and partners in South Carolina continue to monitor oyster growth, vegetation growth and sediment accretion annually.
A Visionary Gift
In December 2020, the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation announced a $997,000 gift to The Nature Conservancy to construct a one-acre living shoreline at East Bay and Morgan parks in Georgetown. It’s the Foundation’s first gift outside of the Columbia area.
“How terrible not to have any oysters," says Columbia icon Susan Boyd as she explains the “fairly simple” calculus behind her family foundation’s transformational gift. “Isn’t it so fun what Donny has allowed us to do?”
Any conversation with Susan Boyd about the transformative work of the Foundation begins with memories of her late husband, Donny. “My name is on it, but he should get all the credit,” she directs.
There’s a lot of credit to go around. Columbia, where the Foundation is based, has benefited from a complete reinvention of Boyd Plaza, upgrades to historic homes and gardens, and creation of the Sanctuary at Boyd Island, off the Saluda Riverwalk, among other projects.
“We are people who love the outdoors, hunting and traveling,” adds Susan. “The longer we were able to do that, the more things we saw being lost. It encouraged us to do something about it.”
This new project fulfills that desire. Living shorelines play a key role in reducing erosion, as sea walls do, but are constructed from marsh grasses and oyster reefs that also welcome wildlife.
“The Foundation focuses on outdoor recreation, education and beauty, as well as improving wildlife habitat,” says George Bailey, the Foundation’s president. “It’s our objective to improve the quality of life for people in the Midlands and create an incredible legacy for the Boyd family.”
In agreement, Susan Boyd adds, “I can’t wait to see [the living shoreline]. It’s going to be beautiful.”
Want to know more about living shorelines, or be put on our list of project insiders to get updates first?
Contact The Nature Conservancy's South Carolina marine program manager, Joy Brown (843-937-8807 x35).