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News and Notes – Summer/Fall 2017
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Love for Natural Places: How It Shapes Our Coast and Affects Us All
VOLUME 30, NUMBER 3, SUMMER/FALL 2017            

By Joey Holleman                                                                                   back to main story  

News and Notes

S.C., Virginia share coastal flooding experience

The Charleston area in South Carolina and the Hampton Roads region of Virginia have common strengths — vibrant economies, ­historic neighborhoods, major military installations, and beautiful waterfronts.

They also share a problem, one that threatens all of those strengths — frequent, persistent flooding. That’s what prompted the Hampton Roads and Charleston Coastal Resilience Knowledge Exchange June 15-16 in Charleston.

About 60 planners, engineers, emergency managers, non-profit leaders, and corporate officials from the two coastal regions gathered to discuss strategies for dealing with their shared challenge. The event was coordinated by the Charleston Resilience Network (CRN), a public-private collaboration formed in 2015 to foster science-based planning for the area. The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium is one of the network’s founding organizations.

Water levels have risen more than a foot in the Charleston harbor in the past century and are forecast to rise another 1.5 to 3 feet in the next 50 years. The Hampton Roads region, which includes the communities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach, is dealing with similar forecasts.

Nuisance flooding has been on the rise for years in both regions. Extreme astronomical tides as well as persistent weather fronts push seawater into streets, yards, and structures dozens of times each year. Extremely heavy rain events, called rain bombs, can cause minor flooding on their own and catastrophic flooding when combined with extreme tides.

“This is a threat that is creeping up, not coming suddenly,” said Brian Swets, planning administrator for Portsmouth, VA. “We don’t need to say the sky is falling. We have time to act if we plan responsibly.”

Dan Burger, the CRN chair and director of the Coastal Services Division in the Ocean and Coastal Resource Management office of S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, said the presentations and discussions at the Knowledge Exchange were just the start.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Burger said.

In addition to the Knowledge Exchange, the CRN in early 2016 coordinated a symposium recapping the impacts of, and community response to, the October 2015 floods. More recently, the CRN has facilitated informal gatherings of municipal, state, corporate, and non-profit stakeholders to build network participation and encourage sharing of information on flood-related issues.

For more information about the Knowledge Exchange and the Charleston Resilience Network, visit

Oyster company owner participates in Capitol Hill briefing

oyster farmThe owner of a Beaufort County oyster company explained at a Capitol Hill briefing how S.C. Sea Grant Consortium helped spark recent growth in local shellfish aquaculture.

Frank Roberts of Lady’s Island Oyster joined aquaculturists from California, Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi for the June 13 panel “Aquaculture in the United States: Enhancing Growth of the Domestic Industry.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program has backed aquaculture research and development for more than 50 years. From 2012-15, it funded $26 million in aquaculture projects. Another $50 to $100 million in research and development investment is planned in the next decade.

The growth of the oyster industry in South Carolina faced a hurdle when, amid concerns about disease transfer, the state in 2014 introduced a moratorium on oyster seed transfer from all points north of South Carolina.

With help from the Consortium, resource managers identified alternative sources of larvae in Louisiana that would meet import requirements. Consortium Living Marine Resources Specialist Julie Davis also provided hatcheries and nurseries with knowledge and tools to spawn and raise South Carolina oyster larvae and seed.

“It was clear that myself and several other growers were going to be out of business if our industry did not have a reliable in-state seed source,” Roberts said. “This meant building a hatchery, a daunting task. Sea Grant was the first place our industry looked for help.”

Oyster mariculture involves growing hatchery-reared, single-set oysters to harvest size (roughly three inches) in mesh containers raised off the sea floor. Consortium-supported research has introduced growers to the benefits of growing spawnless, or triploid, oysters to provide a consistent meat yield in warmer months.

The state now has 16 oyster growers, with 10 more seeking permits.

In August, growers stopped by Roberts’ hatchery to pick up the first batch of hundreds of thousands of baby triploid oysters with exclusively South Carolina roots — both mother and father bred in the state.

Contact Julie Davis at for more information.

Sarah WatsonWatson hired as coastal climate and resilience specialist

Sarah Watson has joined the S.C. Sea Grant Consor­tium and Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) as a coastal climate and resilience specialist. Watson’s position is jointly supported by the Consortium and CISA, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded research group based at the University of South Carolina.

Watson has a dual Master’s degree in Public Policy and City and Regional Planning, with concentrations in climate adaptation and coastal resilience, from Rutgers University, and a B.A. degree in Journalism from Temple University. Most recently, she worked via subcontract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management to develop risk communication training materials and other resources for coastal decision-makers. Prior to her career in resilience and climate-change issues, she was an environmental journalist and covered Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts at The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey.

Watson will address the coastal climate and resiliency needs of a variety of constituencies by extending science-based climate, weather, and resiliency information and providing hands-on operational and technical support to coastal communities, resource managers, and interest groups in South Carolina and the region. She will also contribute to research driven by community needs and provide hands-on operational and technical support for coastal-climate issues addressed by the Consortium and CISA.

Staff win two awards from Community Pride

Community Pride of Charleston County honored S.C. Sea Grant Consortium’s Director of Communi­cations Susan Ferris Hill and Marine Educator E.V. Bell at the organization’s annual banquet in May.

Ferris Hill was selected for the Captain Pride Award for her work as coastal coordinator of Beach Sweep/River Sweep, South Carolina’s largest volunteer-driven litter cleanup.

Since 1988, more than 148,000 volunteers have collected 1,233 tons of debris in the annual litter cleanup on the state’s waterways and beaches. And in 2016, the cleanup saved taxpayers $210,000, based on the value of volunteer time.

Beach Sweep/River Sweep is a joint effort of S.C. Sea Grant Consor­tium and S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and it is held in conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. For information about Beach Sweep/River Sweep, visit

Bell and the team that put together the From Seeds to Shoreline® program were selected for the Johnnie Dodds Education Award.

From Seeds to Shoreline immerses K-12 students in the coastal marsh environment through the cultivation and restoration of Spartina alterniflora. Bell coordinates this joint effort with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and Clemson Extension.

For more information about the From Seeds to Shoreline program, visit

Last updated: 11/17/2017 3:29:19 PM
News and Notes – Summer/Fall 2017


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