In 1988, the South Carolina “Beachfront Management Act” (Coastal Tidelands and Wetlands Act, as amended, §48-39-250 et seq.) established a comprehensive statewide beachfront management program. The Act included several key legislative findings, including (summarized):
- the importance of the beach and dune system in protecting life and property from storms, providing significant economic revenue through tourism, providing habitat for important plants and animals, and providing a healthy environment for recreation and improved quality of life of all citizens;
- unwise development has been sited too close to and has jeopardized the stability of the beach/dune system;
- the use of armoring in the form of hard erosion control devices such as seawalls, bulkheads, and rip-rap to protect erosion-threatened structures has not proven effective, have given a false sense of security, and in many instances, have increased the vulnerability of beachfront property to damage from wind and waves while contributing to the deterioration and loss of the dry sand beach;
- inlet and harbor management practices, including the construction of jetties which have not been designed to accommodate the longshore transport of sand, may deprive downdrift beach/dune systems of their natural sand supply;
- it is in the state’s best interest to protect and promote increased public access to beaches for visitors and South Carolina residents alike.
- a coordinated state policy for post-storm management of the beach and dunes did not exist and that a comprehensive beach management plan was needed to prevent unwise development and minimize adverse impacts.
The Beachfront Management Act then established eight state policies to guide the management of ocean beaches:
- Protect, preserve, restore, and enhance the beach/dune system;
- Create a comprehensive, long-range beach management plan and require local beach management plans for the protection, preservation, restoration, and enhancement of the beach/dune system, each promoting wise use of the state’s beachfront to include a gradual retreat from the system over a forty-year period;
- Severely restrict the use of hard erosion control devices and encourage the replacement of hard erosion control devices with soft technologies which will provide for the protection of the shoreline without long-term adverse effects;
- Encourage the use of erosion-inhibiting techniques which do not adversely impact the long-term well-being of the beach/dune system;
- Promote carefully planned nourishment as a means of beach preservation and restoration where economically feasible;
- Preserve existing public access and promote the enhancement of public access for all citizens including the handicapped and encourage the purchase of lands adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean to enhance public access;
- Involve local governments in long-range comprehensive planning and management of the beach/dune system in which they have a vested interest; and
- Establish procedures and guidelines for the emergency management of the beach/dune system following a significant storm event.
DHEC-OCRM is responsible for implementing these policies through a comprehensive management program that includes research and policy development, state and local planning, regulation and enforcement, restoration, and extension and education activities.
Research and Policy Development
Extension and Education
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