In South Carolina, shorelines adjacent to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ACE Basin - Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers are subject to severe erosion due to heavy boat traffic and artificial channelization, which disrupts natural shoreline processes. This erosion destroys or threatens oyster reef and salt marsh habitats. In the project area, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has documented 2.25miles of shoreline on the Ashepoo/Rock Creek cut as suffering from severe marsh erosion and in need of protection.
According to the SCDNR’s latest oyster resource survey, conducted between 2003 and 2008 using ¼ meter digital aerial photography, there are no oysters on this shoreline and the marsh edge is as much as 35 meters from the water, with nothing but mudflats in front of it. Previous work has demonstrated that bagged oyster shells provide a stable substrate for oyster recruitment and create self-sustaining reefs which stabilize the shoreline, promote sediment accretion, and foster salt marsh expansion in various waters and creeks within the waterway.