Hunting Island State Park officials plan to almost double the scope of an already planned beach restoration project that was already planned last year before Hurricane Matthew moved through Beaufort. In a new permit request, engineers plan to pump 1.2 million cubic yards of sand onto the shoreline and build up to four new groins that extend hundreds of feet into the ocean and are designed to trap and build up sand on the beach.
In an article published Friday in the Beaufort Gazette, state parks director Phil Gaines laid out the information in the proposal to perform the restoration project.
Most of the additional sand pumped in from offshore will target the north end of the island between the lighthouse and campground. A nearby parking lot is within feet of the water at high tide, and the lighthouse and nearby gift shop are also vulnerable.
The proposed work would begin in early 2018 and is expected to cost about $10 million, which would be the priciest Hunting Island beach-restoration project and more than double the cost of the most recent work in 2006. The amount of sand to be added would be the most since 1980, when 1.4 million cubic yards were used.
Plans before Matthew called for up to 635,000 cubic yards of sand and two groins, about half of the current proposal.
Hunting Island is one of the state’s most popular parks, with more than 1 million visitors during a fiscal year. And South Carolina has prioritized the barrier island’s constantly shifting beaches.
Eight previous beach-restoration projects on Hunting Island totaled $13.1 million, according to the state’s original permit request last year.