Boeing South Carolina announced on Thursday a $100,000 donation to the running-out-of-time fundraising to save Crab Bank.
The effort, which must raise $1.5 million by December, has $365,000 with the contribution from the aircraft manufacturer — about a quarter of the needed money. The donation had been pledged earlier.
"Our efforts to restore Crab Bank are gaining momentum," Coastal Conservation League Executive Director Laura Cantral said. The league is a member of a coalition trying to raise the money to pay for renourishing the severely eroded seabird and shorebird rookery.
“I know this community won’t let this opportunity slip by. We are confident that with continued support from regional leaders like Boeing, we can save this special place on our coast at a time when it is most needed for our community and threatened sea and shorebirds,” she said.
Crab Bank was a vital seabird and shorebird rookery in Charleston Harbor until last summer. At its peak, the island covered more than 18 acres and nested nearly 4,000 birds. By last summer, erosion had cut the high ground had shrunk to about an acre and no birds nested.
The bank was one of five protected rookeries that helped make for the eye-catching flocks of seabirds and shorebirds that are a wonder of the coast — from pelicans flying in formation by the dozens to black skimmers and oystercatchers hunting inches above the water.
The rookeries are tiny, uninhabited swaths of sand and reeds where the birds tend nests in huge flocks of mixed species. They are vital habitat for troubled and threatened species. Each one is critical because individual islands tend to wash out, and because a tropical storm or hurricane can wreak havoc along any one of them.
Crab Bank is the only one located in the relative safety of a harbor.
The bank could be renourished by some 600,000 cubic yards of bottom soils dredged from the Charleston shipping channel deepening.
The South Carolina Coastal Bird Conservation Program is a coalition of conservation groups working under the auspices of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to raise the local cost-share money to restore the bank.
"DNR is excited to see industries like Boeing South Carolina take an interest in not only their community, but an interest in the natural resources of our state," said Alvin Taylor, the department director.
"Boeing is smart. The company knows that the key to success is maintaining a good quality of life for their employees. South Carolina’s natural resources and outdoor opportunities contribute significantly to that quality of life," he said.