Freshwater Habitat Restoration: Island Restoration/Stabilization
Over the past several years’ staff from Bears Bluff NFH, Wadmalaw Island Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, SC Department of Natural Resources biologists and Santee Cooper Power have planted water willow around eroding islands in order to stabilize the shorelines by natural means. This group of islands acts as a breakwater and protects a large expanse of ideal spawning and nesting habitat for a variety of fish and bird species. In May and June 2011, biologists from the Bears Bluff NFH, SCDNR, and Santee Cooper Power partnered to build gabions around one island that is undergoing significant erosion. The gabions are large rectangular cages constructed from galvanized wire. Multiple cages are secured into place in front of the island and filled with rip rap/rock. The structures work by absorbing and deflecting the impact of waves before they reach the island, thus dissipating the energy and reducing erosion. The gabions are designed to trap sediment during storm events and allow the islands to re-build rather than erode. Additional work will involve planting water willow behind the gabions to further reduce erosion and enhance habitat. If proven successful, it is hoped this project will serve as a model for larger scale restoration efforts in the future. This work was partially funded through a fish habitat grant obtained thru SARP (Southeastern Aquatic Resource Partnership).