Lowcountry conservationists have 35 days to raise $1.5 million in order to save a rare shorebird nesting site in Charleston Harbor tha is eroding away.
Their effort got a big boost Thursday after Boeing South Carolina announced it will donate $100,000 toward the total needed to save Crab Bank.
“Boeing has been in for conservation since the day they moved in South Carolina,” South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Director Alvin Taylor said. “From the very beginning, we were moving endangered plants. We looked at conservation methods that they supported DNR in the state of South Carolina from day one.”
DNR has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which plans to begin dredging and deepening the harbor in 2019, to renourish Crab Bank with the sand it digs up from the harbor floor. The Army Corps of Engineers agreed but said it needed a matching $1.5 million to do so. The bank was created with spoil from dredging done in the 1950s.
“In South Carolina we’ve got five breeding, nesting islands and we cannot afford to lose one of those,” Audobon South Carolina executive director Sharon Richardson said. “This is the perfect opportunity with its high visibility. Wildlife watching is an economic driver for the local community and the state economy.”
“We have to act,” she said.
Coastal Expeditions owner Chris Crolley said Crab Bank is one of the more easily-accessible nesting grounds to watch, study and enjoy the wildlife due to its close proximity to the mainland near Mount Pleasant.
At its peak, Crab Bank was the site of 5,000 shorebird nests each summer. However, not one bird nested on the eroding sandbank this year.
The Coastal Bird Conservation Program is organizing the fundraising. The fund has been receiving donations from individuals, corporations and Lowcountry-area organizations. Moultrie Middle School students in Mount Pleasant raised $675. The South Carolina Ports Authority also contributed $100,000. With the donation from Boeing, about $365,000 have been raised in the campaign.
“It’s truly a gem for the Lowcountry and at Boeing we were thrilled when we realized that this really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come together and do something significant to help the long-term preservation of our area,” Boeing Senior Director of National Strategy and Engagement Lindsay Leonard said.