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 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. (DONE)
- Coastal Carolina University conducts baseline monitoring. (IN PROGRESS)
- DHEC living shoreline permit approved (DONE)
- USACE in-water permit approved (DONE)
- Construction begins.
- Complete construction.
- Coastal Carolina University conducts post-installation monitoring.
The Big Picture
The Nature Conservancy's efforts at 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.
Goldbug Island: A Case Study in Success
The reef at Goldbug Island was designed to ensure that materials were elevated out of the mud to 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. TNC's staff and partners in South Carolina continue to monitor oyster growth, vegetation growth and sediment accretion annually.
Build Your Own Living Shoreline
We’re excited to share the good news that private property owners now can apply for a permit to protect their property by building their own living shoreline! This new permit process is the culmination of more than a decade of pilot installations (including Goldbug Island) and monitoring, led by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR), TNC and other partners.
So, where do you start?
Ultimately, you’ll want to contact DHEC for all living shoreline permit conversations. Before reaching out, though, here are some resources to help you decide if a living shoreline is the right choice to protect your property:
- DHEC’s Living Shorelines describes the permit development, research completed and regulatory definitions.
- Clemson Extension offers additional information regarding costs, how to select an installation method and how to measure success, as well as training and educational opportunities.
- TNC’s Living Shoreline Explorer Application provides a preliminary look at specific site conditions that are important to consider (energy levels, shoreline change and harvest areas).
To request a pre-application meeting with DHEC OCRM, please contact Blair Williams, Critical Area Permitting Section Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know that any new permit process can seem daunting, and we’re here to help. Reach out to Joy Brown at TNC at any time with questions about evaluating or developing your own living shoreline project.
This is your shoreline. Morgan Park is your park.
“I’m honored to be a community ambassador for this project. Applying nature-based solutions to coastal challenges in our area is exciting. I love the idea that this project is focused on helping our land heal itself."
“I’m excited for the idea of this project bringing attention to Georgetown. We’re trying to build nature-based tourism here and almost rebranding Georgetown as an epicenter of people and nature.”
“I like the multi-layered approach of this project. This way of rebuilding the shoreline is similar to how the Native Americans interacted with their environment, protecting it and using it for aquaculture."
“This is a great opportunity for Georgetown residents to learn and engage in the process of nature healing itself.”
“I keep seeing in my mind, curriculum for local kids. Starting in middle school, this could be a living classroom so our young people can learn about the environment and living shorelines.”
A Transformational 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.
“We’re very interested in lots of nature things," says Columbia icon Susan Boyd of her family’s foundation. “This [project] sounded really interesting to Donny. He loves oysters and he could see them disappearing.”
“Donny” is Susan’s late husband, Darnall, who created the foundation that bears his and Susan’s names.
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.”
“I love this project, and I think it’s very worthwhile to save part of the world,” adds Susan. “And so I’m glad we’re doing it.”
Support This Work
Want to learn more about living shorelines?
Contact TNC's South Carolina marine program manager, Joy Brown to learn more about the program, including how to get regular updates. Contact Joy Brown
Contact TNC's South Carolina director of philanthropy, Elizabeth Foster, to contribute to the Boyd Living Shoreline or other living shoreline projects in South Carolina. Contact Elizabeth Foster