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Several dozen cypress trees in an area that regularly floods
Information icon Cypress trees at Cathedral Bay. Photo USFWS.

Coastal program

Established in 1995, the South Carolina Coastal Program works across coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Although the program works throughout the coastal plain, two new strategic focus areas (the Inland Coastal Plain Focus Area and the Tidal Wetland and Barrier Islands Focus Area) were established along several major river watersheds, key conservation areas, and vital wildlife corridors.

Focus Areas

A map showing two focus areas: (1) the Atlantic Coast, (2) inland river basins
South Carolina Coastal Program’s focus areas (2018).

Our vision

The vision of the South Carolina Coastal Program is to be an essential partner in the conservation of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats along the South Carolina and Georgia coastal plains. We are leaders, both within and outside the Service, in the implementation of landscape-scale conservation delivery.

Download the South Carolina Coastal Program Strategic Plan.

Beautiful, mature live oaks planted in rows provide a canopy for people and animals alike
Avenue of oaks on conservation easement property in South Carolina. Photo by Chris Hernandez, USFWS.

Protecting threatened, endangered and at-risk species

The Coastal Program works with state natural resource agencies, NGOs, and private landowners to improve habitat for threatened, endangered, or at-risk species.

Examples of species the program works with include:

Habitat protection

The program supports the protection of private lands of significant ecological value with conservation easements. An easement is a voluntary legal restriction that limits future development on a property while maintaining current land use by the owner and preserving the site’s natural resources. An easement is held by a nonprofit organization called a land trust. The Coastal Program works with land trusts to identify potential properties and develops various resources for conservation easement baseline documentation reports.

Where quail is king: Preserving hunting traditions in South Carolina


The program funds restoration projects that improve habitat for wildlife species and engage the public in wildlife conservation. Examples of projects include oyster reef establishment, wetland restoration, native wildflower meadows, longleaf pine habitat enhancement, and invasive species control.

A neat row of oysters along the bank of a body of water
South Carolina Coastal Program built oyster reef providing erosion control for property in Beaufort County. Photo by USFWS.

Cooperative agreements

The program uses cooperative agreements to enter into partnerships and provide funding. A cooperative agreement is not a grant; rather, both parties work together to execute a project. Cooperative agreements are used when there is substantial involvement from the Coastal Program. Substantial involvement means that, after an award, program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities. A cooperative agreement specifically lists the expectations of the partnership, reporting requirements, and duration of the partnership.

For more information about the program in South Carolina please refer to our fact sheet

Learn more about the coastal program

Coastal Barrier Resources System

In the early 1980s, Congress recognized that certain actions and programs of the federal government have historically subsidized and encouraged development on coastal barriers, resulting in the loss of natural resources; threats to human life, health, and property; and the expenditure of millions of tax dollars each year. To remove the federal incentive to develop these areas, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 and subsequent amendments designated relatively undeveloped coastal barriers along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico coasts as part of the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS), and made these areas ineligible for most new federal expenditures and financial assistance. CBRA encourages the conservation of hurricane-prone, biologically rich coastal barriers by restricting federal expenditures that encourage development, such as federal flood insurance. Areas within the CBRS can be developed provided that private developers or other non-federal parties bear the full cost. Visit the national page to learn Learn more about the Coastal Barrier Resources System, or contact Katie Niemi at (703) 358-2071;

Learn more about the CBRS consultation process and the CBRA consultation flow chart.


Jason Ayers, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, South Carolina Coastal Program Coordinator, (843) 727-4707 ext. 220

Chris Hernandez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, South Carolina Coastal Program, (843) 727-4707 ext. 213

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