Since last winter, commissioned companies Coastal Science & Engineering, Sabine & Waters and Dewberry, have been surveying and studying the Accreted Land of Sulli-van’s Island in order to draft a report outlining several options for the land’s future use. On August 4, residents will have their first official look at the report and will have an opportunity to discuss the issues presented when the consultants conduct a presentation at the Holy Cross Episcopal Church from 6-8pm.
According to the report, “The principal purpose of this plan is to outline a set of scientifi-cally-based strategies for conserving the [Accreted Land] and balancing the need for: conservation of the area, storm protection, beach access, preservation of views, fire safety, and habitat diversity.”
The consultants provided opinions on how the various needs would be met within four viable options, including: doing nothing and letting the land evolve naturally; continue present practices of pruning; consciously landscape the area to provide several ecosystems; or build a system of dunes. Each option has its relative advantages and disadvantages according to the expressed needs and costs.
For example, while the current practice of pruning maintains the views for the homes abutting the Accreted Land, it also stunts that particular area’s growth with a very dense understory which promotes rodent infestation and increases the risk of fire. Doing nothing is extremely cost effective, and will allow the land to mature into a maritime forest and reducing the risk of fire. However, public safety may be compromised as the beach paths will be relatively enclosed and hiding places would be much easier to find. Creating several ecosystems or a dune system, on the other hand, are the two most expensive strategies. The former involves landscaping that would require trees to be cut and the ground to be manipulated to provide a planned ecosystem that would result in a greater biodiversity in the area while maintaining views for homeowners. However, it would also require regular maintenance as the natural inclination of the area is to progress into a maritime forest if left unchecked. Some of the same costs associated with beach nourishment would come with building a dune system. However, protection against storm surges would be increased significantly.
The City Council points out that the current plan is certainly not the “final” plan and the options presented are not the only ones available. To get a more detailed view of the options, be sure to attend the presentation on August 4, from 6-8pm in the “Great Room” of the Holy Cross Episcopal Church. The public is strongly encouraged to attend and provide their valuable opinions on the future of the Accreted Land.
Residents can see the draft document of the plan by visiting the City’s website at www.sullivansisland-sc.com.