The Governors' South Atlantic Alliance is a voluntary partnership among the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The mission of the South Atlantic Alliance is to significantly increase regional collaboration among South Atlantic states, with federal agency partners and other stakeholders, to sustain and enhance the environmental (coastal/marine), natural resource, economic, public safety, social, and national defense missions of the respective states and the South Atlantic region. DHEC is playing a leading role in the organization of this important effort.
The state Beachfront Management Act (S.C. Code Ann. § 48-39-250 et seq) establishes the statutory guidance and state policies that direct all state beachfront activities and decisions. The Act is implemented through a variety of mechanisms at the state and local levels, including through the State Comprehensive Beachfront Management Plan and Local Comprehensive Beach Management Plans. The Act requires ocean beachfront counties and municipalities to prepare local comprehensive beach management plans in coordination with DHEC-OCRM. These plans must include a minimum of ten specific elements. Once adopted by the community, local comprehensive beach management plans are then submitted to DHEC for review and state approval.
Local comprehensive beach management plans are an important and effective management tool for local governments. These plans provide guidance to state and federal agencies on local policies, regulations, and procedures related to beachfront management. Local comprehensive beach management plans are required to be reviewed by the local government every five years.
Promoting responsible public access to South Carolina's beaches, rivers and creeks is a cornerstone of the coastal management program. DHEC works with municipalities to establish, maintain and enhance public access points through coordinated planning programs.
In 2012, DHEC solicited proposals and awarded grants to municipalities to enhance coastal access throughout the coastal zone. Projects that will receive state funding include:
When use conflicts and/or the gradual, cumulative impacts of human activities threaten sensitive coastal resources, a Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) is used to collect and examine data, identify development trends, anticipate conflicts, and tailor coastal policies to the unique circumstances and resources found in different sub regions of the coastal zone. SAMPs can be used to develop strategies to protect and manage resources in order to ensure the goals of the various users of the resource are compatible. SAMPs may be requested by state, local, or federal entities, in addition to DHEC's authority to develop plans as needed. SAMPs are initiated by the DHEC Board and must be approved by the Board prior to final implementation. During the preparation of a SAMP, alternative approaches to addressing and managing conflicts will be explored by a range of stakeholders, including local, state and federal officials, nonprofit organizations, the business community, and private citizens.