I am sure Brian Hicks had his tongue in his cheek when he wrote in his Aug. 26 column about Capt. Sams Inlet, just so it doesn't "cost the rest of us any money"in regard to another crazy attempt to block the natural evolution of barrier islands. The impact of tunnel vision at any part of the barrier island system that protects 85 percent of our East Coast is not just a waste of money, trying to wrestle with nature. As Brian points out, it is artificially modifying the environment (Kiawah) which will impact neighbors "downstream" (Seabrook Island).
Environmental management can no longer cater to isolated needs but must be viewed for local to regional impact. We now appreciate the interdependence of ecosystems. Much of the sand artificially renourished on the Isle of Palms has washed south, as geologists predicted, and has led to incredible accretion on Sullivan's Island.
Orin Pilkey, featured this August in National Geographic for his work on the coastal processes of the barrier islands along North Carolina and the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, also warns that what frequently is dredged is not suitable for renourishment.
The town of Sullivan's Island is faced with the enviable task of managing over 90 acres of accreted land and preparing for natural threats of sea-level rise, island migration, hurricanes and storms. Did our neighbors send us good sand or stuff that will wash away in the first big storm?
Directly south, Morris Island would really be better off with some shared sand from Sullivan's but not the Kevlar empty sandbags from Isle of Palms which washed up in great numbers on Morris.
By adopting a long-term plan and protecting an emerging maritime forest and not destroying it by artificially creating an unobstructed view of the ocean for a few, Sullivan's Island has a chance to lead.
Allowing nature to stabilize the accretion with "green" makes a lot of sense. By not overmanaging the accreted land, it is less likely we will expose all of the island to natural disaster and taxpayers to another bailout. As Brian states, "Taxpayers wouldn't like it if Seabrook asked the state for a multimillion-dollar renourishment project every few decades." Sullivan's Islanders are not too keen on inviting FEMA back either.
I hope readers who don't live near or on barrier islands understand that everybody pays when we do silly things to please a few. Instead, by taking advantage of biodiversity it is possible to stabilize all of our communities for episodes of various climate changes.
Good environmental management balances sensitive development, avoids resource depletion, prevents pollution and introduction of unnatural habitat, and stabilizes coastal communities like Charleston, dependent upon barrier islands to provide a natural buffer from storms.
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