Friday, October 6, 2017 News · Press Releases

Conservation League, Coastal Advocates React to Proposed Beachfront Lines

by Alan Hancock


Alan Hancock, Communications Director – [email protected] – (803) 361-1693
Emily Cedzo, Land, Water & Wildlife Program Director – [email protected] – (843) 725-1290

October 6, 2017


CHARLESTON, S.C. – Today, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shared its revisions to state beachfront lines and launched a 30-day public comment period. Though DHEC reviews and updates these lines – the baseline and setback line – every 7 to 10 years, the latest revisions are the state’s first following the passage of the landmark Shoreline Management Bill, Senate Bill 139 (S.139), in June 2016.

Today’s revisions represent the agency’s first efforts to carry out this legislation by establishing a baseline that will never move seaward and upholding the scientific evidence behind shifting shorelines.

“Setting a baseline that will never again move seaward is key to protecting our coast and communities, and it’s important to get it right,” Emily Cedzo, the Coastal Conservation League’s Land, Water & Wildlife Program Director, said.

In the days ahead, the Conservation League will work with coastal geologists and other experts to evaluate DHEC’s new baseline and ensure it reflects the best science. “We are asking all citizens to join us in this evaluation, submit comments and attend public meetings. Let’s work together for the future of our coast.”

S. 139 – common-sense shoreline policy – seeks to limit our state’s increasing vulnerability to rising sea levels.

“In the last few years, coastal communities have weathered intense storms and difficult periods of recovery. This trend will continue. It is in our best interest to be forward-thinking in regulatory decisions,” Cedzo said. “The Conservation League appreciates the legislators who championed responsible beachfront management.”

The 2016 law enacted the strongest protections for South Carolina beaches in more than a quarter century. The law ensures the baseline – a line that limits certain types of construction – cannot move seaward at the interest of developers. The establishment of a new baseline will allow DHEC to continue its careful review of proposed coastal construction.

“We fought hard for the 2016 shoreline bill that enabled state regulators to propose these new protections,” State Representative for House District 115, including Kiawah and Seabrook Islands, Peter McCoy said.

“DHEC’s draft protections for our coast will ensure that we are growing the right way,” McCoy said.

Representative McCoy, along with Representative Bill Herbkersman (R-Beaufort), Representative James Smith (D-Richland), Representative Kirkman Finlay (R-Richland), Senator Chip Campsen (R-Charleston), and Senator Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston), led efforts to advocate for S. 139.

The latest revisions and legislation protect places like Captain Sams Spit, a sandy inlet at the southern end of Kiawah Island. For nearly a decade, Kiawah Partners, an out-of-state development firm, has attempted to build 50 houses, a road, hardened structures and related infrastructure on the dynamic, shrinking inlet.

“South Carolina needs smart regulations to protect taxpayers from imprudent development. Building in risky places subject to erosion from storms brings costs for rebuilding infrastructure and subsidizing insurance that South Carolina taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear,” University of South Carolina law professor Josh Eagle said. Eagle served on the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) on Shoreline Management.

In 2013, the BRC – a diverse group of lawyers, scientists, elected officials, conservationists and realtors – made a series of recommendations to advance the long-term sustainability of the state’s coastal communities and resources. A primary recommendation: Set a baseline that would never move seaward.

“Today’s proposal from DHEC seems like a good first step to implementing last year’s shoreline bill,” Eagle said.

DHEC will publish its new lines on S.C. Beachfront Jurisdiction Viewer and release a “line report” showing how the new line positions were established. In its review of scientific and historical data, DHEC utilizes Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), elevation measurements, vegetation measurements, aerial photos, and mapping GPS units.

Beginning the week of October 23, public hearings will be held in the Beaufort, Charleston and Grand Strand regions. The close of the 30-day comment period is November 6. By December 8, DHEC will notify the public of the state’s adoption of revised lines. Implementation of the new lines takes effect on December 27.

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The Coastal Conservation League is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the coastal resources of South Carolina. Our mission is to protect the natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, clean water and traditional communities by working with citizens, local governments and the state legislature.

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