Environment

Letter | Cherry Grove waters in North Mytle Beach should not be dredged

February 16, 2014 

As a concerned public citizen and one who cares about the natural environment, I am opposed to a proposed dredging process of the Cherry Grove waters at North Myrtle Beach and its “silt,” as one person described it.

Numerous other entities also oppose the dredging project.

Attorney M. Corley, on behalf of The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League said dredging would violate Critical Area Regulations, water quality, and the Coastal Management Program.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers assessment report, obtained under the FOIA, would have public and local government officials believe the majority of the public supports the idea of dredging; however its statistics are misleading – citing people who did not emphatically oppose the project – to be supporters.

The dredging process itself would be in violation of the Corps of Engineers’ principles.

As a significant natural resource, wetlands serve important functions relating to fish and wildlife. Such functions include food chain production, habitat, nesting, spawning, rearing and resting sites for aquatic and land species. Although individual alterations of wetlands may constitute a minor change, the cumulative effect of numerous changes often results in major damage to wetland resources.

However, R. Chamberlayne of the Corps of Engineers approved a permit to the City of North Myrtle Beach in July of 2013 for dredging the wetlands -- citing the canals should be available for recreational use.

It’s not Chamberlayne’s or the Corps function to determine recreational use areas for the State of South Carolina but to assess environmental impact of wetland disposal within 800 feet of a navigable waterway. There’s some question as to permit authority of the Corps anyway -- just whether Cherry Grove Inlet is a navigable body of water.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also opposed the project, saying: The service is concerned about significant loses to these valuable estuarine resources which would occur as a result of the proposed project.

A comment by The National Marine Fisheries Service stated: Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Recommendation: the application shall be denied as proposed.

The City of North Myrtle would be in violation of their own hazard mitigation plan if they continue on with project: The marshes constitute a fragile ecosystem; consequently, indiscriminate dredging and filling, degradation of water quality or unsound building and development practices can have long-term detrimental effects; (Section 6: Natural Resource Protection).

Many citizens do not want to pay for this project, which is estimated to cost around $10 million.

As a state citizen, I don’t want to help pay for this project, which I understand the city has already received $2 million from the state budget.

Give the environment and taxpayers a break. I hope city leaders and recreation enthusiasts swallow their pride and abandon this project, so the waters continually flow in Cherry Grove Inlet to wherever they may without the obstruction of dredging equipment, pipelines and man’s encroachment.

It’s enough that personal watercraft are allowed to ravage the marsh area, which I have seen personally.

The 53rd Street boat ramp allows recreational enthusiasts to access the waters in a safe (and civil) way. That should be enough for access to the water area.

This area should be put in the federal or state Wetlands Preserve Program and be protected from man.

The writer lives in Loris.

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