This week, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control approved a permit application to operate a mine on the border of Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.
We are extremely concerned about this decision and the impacts it will have on the hydrology of Lewis Ocean Bay, as well as important habitat for Venus flytraps and salamanders that require specific moisture levels to survive.
This heritage preserve has a unique assemblage of Carolina bays, which are elliptical or oval depressions unique to the East Coast, longleaf pine forests, and rich biological diversity. We are concerned that a sand mine next door could alter the hydrology of this sensitive ecosystem. If the native wetland vegetation and soils dry out, it could increase the risk of wildfire. It could also make maintaining the habitat through regular controlled burns more challenging.
In 2021, Soilutions LLC applied for a general permit for mining less than 5 acres of sand and clay on Edge Road. The Conservation League, SC Department of Natural Resources, neighboring landowners, and the broader conservation community expressed concerns over the impacts to Lewis Ocean Bay and the nearby residents.
The granting of this permit application would allow for Soilutions LLC to mine sand and clay on 23.2 acres of a 33-acre plot. DHEC has required a buffer around the property, silt fencing, and monitoring wells on the property, but this is not sufficient to protect the habitat and natural resources. Additional measures can and should be taken.
This is critical habitat, sensitive to disruptions such as mining. Allowing this mine will have detrimental impacts on this landscape and the surrounding community.
We continue to stay committed to protecting Lewis Ocean Bay from external threats.