Pelicans, terns and herons are first to benefit from a new effort to rebuild the erosion-scarred Folly Beach shoreline.
Bird Key Stono is getting a 40,000-cubic-yard dose of sand dredged from the Folly River. The protected avian sanctuary sits on an estuarine sandbar of about 20 acres at the mouth of the Stono River.
The work at the rookery will be finished in a few days and then the focus shifts to placing pipe on the bottom of the Folly River to carry sand more than 3 miles to the Washout, where it will be pumped ashore to replenish 2 miles of beach.
The shore from 8th Street East to the end of East Ashley Avenue will get some 60,000 dump truck loads of sand beginning in late April.
"This section of the beach is really in pretty bad shape," said Wes Wilson, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers.
The work will happen around the clock and last about three months. During that time, the public can get up-to-date information at an Army Corps website.
The project will be done in 1,000-foot segments of the beach and happen first from the Washout to the end of East Ashley Avenue, then from the Washout to 8th Street East. The pipeline carrying sand from the river to the beach will cross underneath East Ashley Avenue.
"It's very good quality sand," Wilson said.
The $11 million federally funded project is in response to major erosion after Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Irma. Congress approved the funds on an emergency basis after a Corps study determined that the storms claimed much of the sand from a $30 million beach renourishment project done three years ago.
A related but separately funded $2 million project will repair nine timber beach groins from 8th Street East to 14th Street East. The state and the city are splitting the $1 million cost of that work.
The plan is to finish rehabbing the groins before the beach renourishment contractor, Marinex, begins working from the Washout to 8th Street East. That way, Marinex can backfill sand around the groins, said Mayor Tim Goodwin.
"It's a juggling act to get the groins done before the beach renourishment," he said.
The last federal permit needed to repair the groins was awarded Friday, Goodwin said.