We are working with the Coastal Conservation League and local Wadmalaw Island residents in challenging a DHEC permit authorizing dredging and excavating critical area salt marsh in order to convert a unique and highly valuable brackish and freshwater pond and wetland system into a saltwater mitigation bank on Wadmalaw Island in Charleston County.
Converting the pond and wetland system to salt water would not only disrupt the established habitat of plants, birds and fish but would also risk damage to the area from stormwater runoff if development happens close by and make the area even more susceptible to sea level rise and marsh migration.
The sole purpose of this project is economic benefit to the developer, Point Farm Investors, which has already entered into an extremely lucrative contract with Charleston County for over $19 million in order to sell mitigation "credits" to offset marsh impacts associated with future road projects.
We have appealed the DHEC permit to the Administrative Law Court and expect a hearing to occur in early 2023.
We are also fighting in the zoning arena. There are several zoning decisions that the County must make in the coming weeks that will have a direct impact on the ability of this mitigation bank to move forward. Point Farm and the County, the beneficiaries to the multi-million-dollar contract, are trying everything to keep the public out of the zoning process, but SCELP is continuing to work to keep a seat at the table on the local government front.
In March 2023, we reached a settlement agreement in the Point Farm Administrative Law Court case. In the settlement, Point Farm Investors has agreed to certain freshwater resource enhancement and additional practices to reduce the risk of contaminant releases from the dredging activity.
We are proud to have negotiated a conservation-focused outcome from this administrative appeal in this case. We look forward to continuing to advocate for habitat conservation and environmental protection, not just on Wadmalaw Island, but for all of our State’s treasured natural places.