‘Wild card’ federal funding to pay SC rookery Crab Bank renourishment

The imperiled Crab Bank shorebird rookery has been saved, apparently, by a federal grant no one expected to win. But the coalition looking to restore the once vital shorebird rookery is cautious about making that claim for certain until more details become clear.

The U.S. Water Resources Development Act funding could pay the entire estimated $1.4 million needed for equipment and pipes to run soil to the bank from the Charleston Harbor dredging now underway.

That would free up more than $1 million already raised to pay to build oyster reefs, plant sea grasses and other natural barriers, or “living shoreline” to hold the renourished sand in place longer. It could also provide seed money for the S.C. Coastal Bird Conservation Program coalition’s ongoing shorebird conservation efforts.

The grant was published without much notice in the Federal Register late last week as the project organizers scrambled to raise the final $112,000 they thought they needed before an end-of-the-year deadline.

They still don’t know exactly how much, or when, the federal money will arrive because the government is largely shut down, the grants are competitive, among other factors.

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