April 19, 2024

politics of law

Politics and Law

Commentary: SC bird and beach communities would benefit from bipartisan US Senate effort | Commentary

3 min read

From Myrtle Seaside to Looking Island, birds are returning to nest in our inlets and alongside our shorelines. Brown pelicans are presently patrolling the waves and marshes to feed their young. Black skimmers and minimum terns are boosting chicks on the sand. Birds have flocked to South Carolina’s coast with the coming of summer time.

Birds have numerous safe places to rear their younger on our coast thanks to decades of teamwork by conservation corporations, volunteers, condition organizations and regional governments. A bipartisan bill in Congress features an option to build on this get the job done by defending our beach towns and important coastal habitats at the identical time.

The Water Assets Advancement Act of 2022, which will appear ahead of the total Senate for consideration this month, involves a provision that’s fantastic for the economic system and the natural environment. The bill, backed by Republicans and Democrats, would protect coastal habitat whilst delivering affordable, substitute sand resources utilized for beach front renourishment tasks. Underneath the invoice, community governments would be ready to seek federal guidance for any included prices of dredging and sourcing sand outside of delicate coastal locations. It’s a win-get: Communities, such as Folly Seaside, would get sand for beach renourishment initiatives even though shielding the habitats that birds and people count on.

For decades, pristine seashores, marshes and inlets up and down the South Carolina coastline have been safeguarded from federal growth applications by the Coastal Barrier Means Act. Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, the software prohibits federal cash that assist growth in particular designated places.

The result has been a generation of conservation that continues to make our coast a top rated-tier vacation spot, from environment-class fishing to open up stretches of untouched beach locations to the considerable wildlife we all enjoy. The new invoice would establish on the Coastal Barrier Assets Act to assistance beach cities and make certain that habitats are conserved.

That means enduring protections for the spots that provide as nurseries for maritime existence, which includes economically important fish species. South Carolina’s commercial saltwater fishing market lands additional than 9.7 million pounds of fish, contributing much more than $26 million to the state’s economy each 12 months. Recreational saltwater fishing accounts for practically 10,000 work in the condition and pumps far more than $900 million into the state’s financial state yearly.

It also suggests enduring protections for exceptional chicken habitat, from stretches of open up sand to marsh inlets, all of which present habitat for vulnerable seaside-nesting birds these as Wilson’s plovers, minimum terns and American oystercatchers to increase their youthful and obtain meals. Sand mining in inlets and other nearshore locations can hurt habitats that are vital to shorebirds and waterbirds, with damage to the foods chain persisting for months or even several a long time.

Undeveloped inlets, islands, seashores and wetlands in the Coastal Barrier Useful resource Act method also aid safeguard upland communities from storms and erosion. A 2021 federal report located that sand mining in inlets, like all those secured by the Coastal Barrier technique, can damage downdrift communities, growing their erosion and exposing them to larger storm hazards and the resulting prices of catastrophe restoration.

The bill that will appear right before the Senate for a vote this month precisely consists of Folly Seashore as a local community that would qualify for the Military Corps of Engineers buying up the tab for the price of dredging sand for beach front renourishment assignments from places that could not be the cheapest sources. The companion invoice in the Property does not however have this provision.

The Senate legislation is a powerful case in point of how we can continue the operate of defending the atmosphere and supporting upland communities at the identical time. Audubon South Carolina supports the harmony that it offers, and urges South Carolina’s congressional delegation to assure that this economically and environmentally vital provision is bundled in Drinking water Assets Improvement Act of 2022, and enacted into regulation.

Julia Dietz is coverage director of Audubon South Carolina.

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