Folly Beach Renourishment Project and Sea Turtles

The $18 million Folly Beach Renourishment project got underway in late February when the contractor, Gator Dredging, began pumping sand from the Stono Inlet onto the 35 acre Bird Key Stono Seabird Sanctuary. After completing Bird Key in early March, Gator began renourishing Folly Beach beginning at the terminal groin in Folly Beach County Park and heading eastward. Gator is currently discharging near 7th Street West. Sometime in mid-May the subcontractor, Marinex Corporation, will begin renourishing east of the pier and continue eastward until reaching Summer Place Lane. When that occurs, there will be two dredges and two active renourishing sites operating until the project completion, anticipated by September.

  • The dredging contractor will provide nighttime monitoring along the beach where construction is taking place to ensure the safety of female turtles attempting to nest. A buffer zone around the female will be imposed in the event of an attempt to nest. Gator Dredging has hired Folly Beach Sea Turtle volunteers to perform the night monitoring. The night monitoring began on April 15. The monitoring begins at 8:30 pm and continues until 6:30 am. All monitors are experienced and permitted by SCDNR.
  • Daily nesting surveys of the entire beach will be conducted starting April 20. The surveys will continue until the end of the project. On April 20 FBTW volunteers began daily dawn monitoring of the entire beach.

If a turtle and or a nest is spotted near the construction site during the night, dredging operations will cease. Operations cannot resume until the turtle has returned to the ocean and the nest has been relocated. Along the length of the pipe Gator has constructed sand bridges so beachgoers can get to the seaward side of the pipe. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for mother sea turtles to cross over the bridge and get stranded on the landward side of the pipe. Consequently both the night monitors and day monitors will look along the landward side of the entire pipeline checking for turtles.
Who knows how many sea turtle nests South Carolina will have in 2024? Some predict a big year. Those of us on Folly should not expect a big year. Four of our five lowest annual nest counts have occurred during a renourishment year. But some of our highest annual nest counts have occurred the year after.
The United States Corps of Engineers (USACE) performed an environmental assessment to determine the effects of the project on threatened and endangered species. USACE concluded that there may be adverse effects to loggerhead sea turtles as a result of this project and has required that the following precautions be taken: