Boeing South Carolina announced it would donate $100,000 to aid fundraising efforts to restore Crab Bank in the Charleston Harbor, critical sea and shorebird nesting habitat that has significantly eroded in recent years due to wind, waves, and storms.
More than a year ago, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), local outfitter Coastal Expeditions, and members of the conservation community (Audubon South Carolina, the Coastal Conservation League, and S.C. Wildlife Federation) united to save Crab Bank.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently dredging as part of the Charleston Harbor deepening project and can use sediment from the harbor to restore Crab Bank. It’s a viable option that requires a local match of about $1.5 million by December. To date, and with support from Boeing South Carolina, the effort has raised more than $365,000 for Crab Bank’s restoration.
“We are thrilled to join these partners to help save a piece of land that is so crucial to our local culture and long-term viability of our natural ecosystem,” Lindsay Leonard, Senior Director of National Strategy and Engagement at Boeing South Carolina, said. “Boeing makes generational investments in our communities because we are committed to enhancing the quality of life where we live and work.”
“SCDNR is excited to see industries like Boeing South Carolina take an interest in not only their community, but an interest in the natural resources of our state,” Alvin Taylor, Director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources said. “Boeing is smart. The company knows that the key to success is maintaining a good quality of life for their employees. South Carolina’s natural resources and outdoor opportunities contribute significantly to that quality of life.”
Crab Bank is one of only five seabird sanctuaries managed and protected by the SCDNR. In previous years, birders saw a frenzy of activity on Crab Bank and as many as 5,000 nests active in a single season. Crab Bank provided habitat for brown pelicans, black skimmers, royal terns, American oystercatchers, and many other coastal birds designated as conservation priority species. But 2018 marked the first time in a half-century that birds did not nest on Crab Bank.
“Our efforts to restore Crab Bank are gaining momentum,” Coastal Conservation League Executive Director Laura Cantral said. “I know this community won’t let this opportunity slip by. We are confident that with continued support from regional leaders like Boeing, we can save this special place on our coast at a time when it is most needed for our community and threatened sea and shorebirds.”
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save one of South Carolina’s last remaining seabird sanctuary islands, protect the sizeable economic benefits that birding brings to our state, and increase the coastal resiliency of a vulnerable Mt. Pleasant community,” Audubon South Carolina Executive Director Sharon Richardson said. “I’m grateful for Boeing’s leadership on this important issue, and I hope it encourages others in the business community to follow suit.”
The island is an economic driver for Shem Creek, a vibrant working waterfront, and it contributes to coastal tourism, outdoor education, and scientific research. Every year, more than 10,000 people rent kayaks from outfitters on Shem Creek and paddle to the bank, joining others with personal boats and stand-up paddleboards to see birds nesting – a rare and unique experience on the Atlantic coast.
“We could have no better corporate partner than Boeing South Carolina. The company is no stranger to supporting important causes and consistently contributes to the heath and wellbeing of our community and Lowcountry way of life,” Chris Crolley, owner and captain of Coastal Expeditions and the local outfitter’s foundation, said. “This stewardship effort is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to directly impact our environment, our families, our school children and our birds. On behalf of the Coastal Expeditions Foundation, I want to thank Boeing for again stepping up.”
To learn more about the South Carolina Coastal Bird Conservation Program, its effort to save Crab Bank or to donate to support the island’s restoration, please visit sccoastalbirds.org.