Special to The Current
The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced in May that Folly Beach County Park is a winner of its 2015 Best Restored Beach Award.
“ASBPA created the Best Restored Beach award as a way of highlighting the value of America’s restored beaches,” said Harry Simmons, mayor of Caswell Beach, N.C., and ASBPA president. “As Americans flock to our coastline during the upcoming beach season, most don’t even realize they may be enjoying a restored beach.”
Folly Beach County Park (FBCP) closed for public access in August 2011, when the park, owned by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC), suffered heavy erosion from Hurricane Irene. The storm forced closure of the property and restricted public access and parking for over 400 cars on the west end of Folly Island. In 2012, CCPRC’s consulting engineers, Coastal Science and Engineering, determined that the construction of a terminal groin would help retain the beach of FBCP over time and a stabilization project took place in 2013.
Permits were approved by the Army Corps of Engineers and the SCDHEC Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management to allow the excavation of approximately 415,000 cubic yards of sand from a shoal in the Folly River. On May 5, 2013, stabilization began with pumping sand, and continued with the construction of a terminal groin at the southernmost end of property. The terminal groin is a 745-foot-long low-profile steel structure designed to trap and hold southerly flowing sand in place, while excess sand flows over and around the groin to rebuild the end of the spit. The project was funded entirely through a CCPRC Capital Projects bond. In addition to reopening this public beach access area that had served thousands since its opening in 1982, the restoration also provided a beach and dune area that will facilitate sea turtle nesting and protect shorebird habitats. FBCP reopened to the public on July 3, 2013.
“The loss of the county park access was a loss to the whole community,” said Best Restored Beach Committee Chair Lee Weishar, Ph.D. “This project gave them back their recreational beach and had an added benefit of adding sea turtle and pelican habitat.”