Erosion on Hunting Island removes approximately 15 feet of sand every year. It is one of the fastest eroding beaches on the east coast, and offshore winds generated during the hurricane seasons add to the erosion. In 2004, 50 feet of beach disappeared from the south beach area near Cabin Road.
To help combat the overall erosion, particularly in the area of the lighthouse, the South Carolina legislature put $5 million into the state budget in 2006 for re-nourishment. With other funds already appropriated, the project to pump sand onto the beach in 2006 was completed, and groins and jetties were installed in the winter of 2006-07. The sand pumping was finished in time for the 2006 turtle season. Human visitors found the expanded beach much to their liking also.
The fight against erosion is constant and can never be won completely. Each re-nourishment project is expected to last about 20 years. It is the only way to save the beach for 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, OCM, and the US Army Corps of Engineers agreed on 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 onto the beach. Experts believe the groins are doing the job they were intended to do. Scouring and sandbar increases 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 the beach.
After the re-nourishment of 2006, the 2007 turtle teams found that the sea turtle females 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 get out of the nests. Still, many made their way to the sea and to their journey to the Gulf Stream and beyond.
One way to 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.
We need only two 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 Friends of Hunting Island and have unlimited access to the park 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 the Friends of Hunting Island.