Hunting Island faces the Atlantic Ocean on its eastern shore and provides access to sandy beaches and rolling surf. The natural beauty of the South Carolina coast cannot be matched. Hunting Island is a barrier island, nature's first defense against the onslaughts of the Atlantic Ocean. Its four miles of beach front take a tremendous pounding from the sea.
Erosion on Hunting Island takes away approximately 15 feet of sand every year. It is one of the fastest eroding beaches on the east coast. And, of course, the offshore winds generated during the bad hurricane season of 2004 eroded the beach alarmingly — 50 feet disappeared from the south beach area near Cabin Road. The ocean threatened to wash out the road and join with the lagoon. Federal funds became available to do emergency nourishment in the area most affected, a project now completed.
To help combat the overall erosion, particularly in the area of the lighthouse, the South Carolina legislature put $5 million into the State budget. With other funds already appropriated, the project to pump sand onto the beach in 2006 was completed and to place strategic groins (jetties) on the beach during the winter of 2006 — 2007 is also done. The sand pumping was finished in time for the 2006 turtle season. Human visitors to the park have found the expanded beach much to their liking.
The fight against erosion is constant and can never be won completely. The hope is that this beach nourishment project will preserve the beach for about 20 years. At the end of that period, more nourishment will almost surely be necessary. It is the only way to save the beach for the future generations of South Carolinians and visitors from all over the country and the world.
The first, single groin on the north end of Hunting Island beach was built in the 1960s. After many storms, much erosion, repeated re-nourishment projects, and extensive study, SCPRT, OCRM, and the US Army Corps of Engineers agreed upon a plan for a groin field to stabilize the latest re-nourishment.
The groins were designed to be invisible at high tide. They inhibit the lateral movement of the sands that were pumped on to the beach. Experts believe the groins are doing the job they were intended to do. Scouring and sandbar increase at both ends of the Island are reported to be part of the natural beach evolution.
With new sand came more opportunities for the Friends of Hunting Island to contribute to the continuing effectiveness and enjoyment of our beach.
The 2007 Turtle teams found that although the groin construction was still being finished when the season began, the sea turtle mommas used the new beach as usual for nesting. But, in some areas of the re-nourishment the sands seemed too heavy for hatchlings to dig up and out. Still, many made their way to the sea and to their journey to the Gulf Stream and beyond.
One way we help the loggerheads, as well as protect the campground and picnic areas, is through the on-going dune building efforts of our Environment volunteers. The extensive sand fencing (with turtle gaps) helps trap blown sand in natural deposits that are less compacted than pumped sand.
We attempt to stabilize these sand hills with native plantings, the roots of which spread into complex systems that contribute reinforcement to the dunes in order to keep the sea from washing out roads, parking areas, picnic tables, and campsites.
These are just some of the areas where Friends of Hunting Island have participated to improve and save the beaches. Do you want to become a member and help with these important programs? Click on the link below.
We need only two simple things to provide the services and projects you see described on this website; your participation and your tax-deductible membership fees. For one $40 membership contribution, you and your family can join our Friends organization for one year. All members are encouraged to participate in any of our on-going projects. If you do not wish to join, but want to donate to our efforts, Click here to make a tax deductible donation to FOHI.