ContactSite MapSearchNews
Inside Sea GrantResearchExtensionEducationFundingProductsEvents

SC Sea Grant Consortium
287 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29401
p: 843.953.2078
f: 843.953.2080
Coastal Communities

South Carolina's coastal population has exploded in recent years, and is projected to increase 65 percent by the year 2010 to over one million residents living within the eight coastal counties. This expected growth, while being economically beneficial, can altar and diminish our coastal and marine resources.

The goal of the Coastal Communities Program is to help find a sustainable balance between necessary economic growth and natural resource conservation, by assisting coastal communities with determining the most effective means to ensure sustained use of South Carolina's marine and coastal resources. The Program seeks to educate citizens and public officials about land use and associated impacts on natural resources, by providing science-based information and tools to enhance their ability to address the pressures of coastal growth.

For more information regarding Coastal Communities Program activities please contact:

April Turner, Coastal Communities Specialist
S.C. Sea Grant Extension Program
287 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401
P: 843/953-2078 F: 843/953-2080

Examples of How We Work:

Natural Asset Planning
Our Coastal Future Forum
Working Waterfronts Community Forums: Resources and Responses to Questions
Vulnerable Water Infrastructure in Coastal Cities
Regional Coastal Community Workshop Series

S.C. Coastal Community Initiative Grant Program
S.C. Coastal Information Network
Sustainable Water Resources Management
Community Dune Restoration Project
Planning for Quality Growth
Collaborative Research Report on Runoff Volume Sensitivities of Tidal Headwaters

Coastal Communities ARCHIVEpast examples of how we work

Natural Asset Planning

Natural asset planning—also referred to as Green Infrastructure planning—is a strategic landscape approach to open space conservation. Local communities, landowners, and organizations work together to identify, design, and conserve their land network in order to maintain healthy wildlife and human communities. Natural asset planning can be used to prioritize land that should be conserved or restored, and also point to areas that are more appropriate for development.

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, East Cooper Land Trust, and College of Charleston received a $20,000 Green Infrastructure technical assistance grant from the S.C. Forestry Commission to develop the Connected Land Conservation Plan for the East Cooper Region of Charleston County, S.C. The purpose of the plan is to provide a regional perspective of local development patterns and natural resources in the area between the Cooper and Santee rivers. To create this plan, the project team partnered with the communities of Mount Pleasant, City of Charleston (for Daniel Island and Cainhoy), Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms, Awendaw, McClellanville, and Charleston County. The six mayors of this region signed a memorandum of agreement in support of this natural asset planning project. Over the course of the year, the project team synthesized technical knowledge regarding urban and regional planning, landscape architecture, and ecology, as well as organized workshops to gather input from the mayors and planning staff to develop a land conservation plan.

The project partners completed this cross-jurisdictional land conservation plan with the seven communities in December 2016. This plan serves as a resource for these communities by providing them with the capability to identify and review their highest quality natural assets on a regional scale and to develop strategies to conserve them, while identifying the best locations for development to occur. An accompanying online mapping application is currently being developed and will be completed by Fall 2017.

Regional Coastal Community Workshop Series

This educational workshop series, targeting local volunteer boards, council members, and municipal government staff, is tailored to address concerns about population growth and natural resource protection in coastal South Carolina. Scientists present information on coastal population growth projections and the state of scientific knowledge related to land-use impacts on community-scale marine resources. State agency officials discuss coastal and marine resource management and regulatory processes, and identify sources of technical assistance and support. The overall goal of this workshop is to help establish productive interactions between local community officials and staff and statewide natural resource agency personnel.

The first of these workshops was held for the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Region, followed by one for  the Lowcountry Region (Beaufort, Colleton, and Jasper Counties), and one for the Waccamaw Region (Georgetown and Horry Counties).

S.C. Coastal Community Initiative Grant Program

The S.C. Coastal Community Initiative Grant Program (CCI) is a collaborative land-use planning and water quality program for local decision makers to help foster sustainable land use planning and resource management. Originally established to serve as a support framework to enhance the SC NEMO program, this small grants program was later expanded to provide an incentive to engage local governments in the development and implementation of “quality growth” land management policies and practices. Proposals were solicited from coastal municipalities and counties to participate and recipients of the award received a $2,500 grant to help leverage further support and funding; Recipients of these CCI mini grant awards have addressed a variety of issues related to stormwater runoff and water quality management, open space preservation, alternative transportation and greenway pedestrian/biking access, and natural resource-based planning.

S.C. Coastal Information Network

The South Carolina Coastal Information Network (SCCIN) emerged as a result of a number of coastal outreach institutions and constituencies working in partnership to enhance coordination of the coastal community outreach efforts in South Carolina. The Network includes federal and state agencies, regional government agencies and private organizations seeking to coordinate and/or jointly deliver outreach programs. The purpose of this collaboration is to avoid duplication of efforts and minimize the number of meetings/workshops that community leaders and staff are asked to attend, leverage scarce resources, maximize program benefits and expected outcomes. Coalition partners have created a member list serve and developed a Web site with a database of projects, programs, workshops, and other outreach events. The next steps for the Network are to implement some of the recommendations of the Council on Coastal Futures, and capitalize on partnership opportunities in coastal South Carolina. To access the SCCIN Web site go to

  • The South Carolina Coastal Information Network hosted a workshop series titled “South Carolina’s Changing Shoreline: Implications for the Future” during the fall of 2009. These workshops were held in each of the state’s three coastal regions. The primary purpose of the SCCIN workshops was to provide coastal communities updated information on the physical, ecological, and socio-economic impacts of shoreline change in South Carolina, while highlighting actions communities can take to address the associated risks. South Carolina’s Changing Shoreline workshops featured scientists and resource managers working in the state who presented current information on the status of climate, sea level, and shoreline change in South Carolina.

Workshop attendees included local elected and appointed government officials, municipal and regional government staff, resource managers, public health managers, and other community leaders. Breakout session discussions with community representatives identified the information and educational/training needs for addressing shoreline change issues at the community level (in both the short and long term) in South Carolina. Community representatives also provided insight related to efforts already being taken within their communities. This stakeholder input gathered during the workshops is helpful in determining what the concerns of community members are, and what actions they are most likely to support in order prepare for and react to the changing shoreline in their area. A report summarizing the workshop series results is available for download. SC Changing Shoreline Workshop Summary (pdf)

Sustainable Water Resources Management

As part of the Coastal Communities Extension Program, several water resource-related programs are offered to educate community leaders, decision-makers, staff, and residents about land-use planning and nonpoint source pollution control alternatives that address impacts on coastal and marine resources. The SCNEMO program and outreach efforts conducted as part of the Oak Terrace Preserve Project are examples of these types of programs designed to disseminate information to target audiences that pertains to the effectiveness, efficiency, and durability of stormwater management techniques, including existing and sustainable development practices.

  • Water Quality Education for Municipal Officials (SCNEMO)

    South Carolina Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (SCNEMO) is an informational, educational, and technical assistance strategy for protecting local water quality by linking land use decisions with nonpoint source pollution. SCNEMO has been a successful mechanism for informing elected and appointed officials about the potential impacts of nonpoint source pollution. As of 2004, programs have been conducted in 27 of 46 SC counties (59%). Products that have been developed out of the program include the NEMO fact sheet series, the Taming Stormwater Toolbook, and several journal articles and conference proceedings. SCNEMO was originally funded through a U.S. EPA grant under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, while SC DHEC administered the original projects. Contact April Turner

    NEMO Science Review presentation
    (pps 46.5mb)

    The CRI-SC, Community Resources Inventory Online: A Mapping Resource for South Carolina Communities

    In order to effectively plan for a community's future, while protecting the quality of the environment, officials need to have detailed knowledge of the resources a community possesses. A Community Resource Inventory (CRI) is the foundation of good planning. A CRI is a list or atlas of the natural and cultural resources, as well as human dimensions data (e.g., land parcels, urban areas, streets and highways) in a community. The CRI-SC tool presents a list of resources in the form of online map data, and is intended for quick creation of resource inventory maps. No formal mapping or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) training and capabilities are required.

    The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, in partnership with the S.C. NEMO Program, the Clemson University Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, the Clemson Carolina Clear Program, and the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, has developed the online CRI-SC mapping tool. This project is based on the online CRI developed by the University of Connecticut’s Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) as franchised in partnership with the National Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) Network. The initial version is a pilot program being tested for Georgetown County with the overarching goal of expanding the tool to include all of the S.C. coastal counties. Funding for this project was provided by a larger grant from the NOAA University of New Hampshire Cooperative Institute of Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET). Funding for GIS Web mapping technology was provided by Intelligent River©.

    The development of the tool has relied heavily on stakeholder input gathered through surveys and training workshops. The information was used to: assist with the identification of data resources for project content; provide valuable input from a local perspective on the development and functionality of the tool based on community needs; and provide data and mapping resources that are relevant and would improve this GIS-based application.

    The tool can be used to overlay data layers with USGS topo maps, satellite imagery, and street maps. The inventory data layers are grouped by category, and data layers from multiple categories can be used within a single map. The current categories include: Stormwater Engineering; Planning & Zoning; and Habitat Assessment. As needs are identified, more categories and data layers will be added to the tool. The long-term goal is to expand the tool to cover the eight coastal-county region.

    For more information about the CRI-SC Web site navigate to the following address: To directly link to the interactive tool or download the user guide access the Web site ‘Quick Links’ at the bottom of the site page.

    South Carolina NEMO LID Atlas

    The South Carolina Low Impact Development (LID) Atlas is a searchable online tool providing geo-referenced examples of innovative stormwater management practices around the state. The purpose of the Atlas is to serve as a resource for information about specific, local examples of LID projects to help communities address stormwater and growth-related issues.

    It is part of a national effort launched by the National Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) Network in 2009 to showcase on-the-ground LID examples from around the country. The National LID Atlas was developed by the Connecticut NEMO program and the California Center for Water and Land Use to educate community officials and others about innovative stormwater management practices and encourage LID project implementation.

    The user can search by type of LID example or select a particular region or state on the map to review innovative LID practices. Each highlighted project is depicted by a balloon on the map, which when selected contains project specifics, a summary of the project, photos (when available) and links to more information.

    To allow outside groups and individuals to participate in populating the South Carolina section of the National NEMO LID Atlas, a Google Form was created by SC NEMO and can be accessed through Clemson University’s Carolina Clear Program Web site ( The form asks a series of questions that match the information fields of the national Atlas. Additional in-house questions are asked in order to learn more about the person or group adding the information. The SC NEMO coordinator accesses the LID entries in a spreadsheet created by and housed in Google Docs and adds the information to the National Atlas. New projects are added to the Atlas as they become available. **This tool works best using Firefox or Safari Internet browsers.

  • Oak Terrace Preserve Project Outreach

    The purpose of the Oak Terrace Preserve Project (An Assessment of Stormwater Best Management Practices for Coastal South Carolina: The Oak Terrace Preserve Monitoring Project) is to evaluate the implementation of Low Impact Development Practices (LIDs) in the Southeastern coastal zone to measure their effectiveness as an alternative to traditional stormwater management strategies.  To help educate homeowners about the implementation of LID practices, the first in a series of educational fact sheets on polluted stormwater has been completed as part of this S.C. Sea Grant funded project.

    The fact sheet highlights what polluted runoff is, why people should care, how polluted stormwater is related to coastal development, and what can be done to reduce the impacts to local waterways. An additional fact sheet will be produced to address the educational needs of homeowners regarding low impact development (LID) maintenance requirements. The fact sheet series will be used to educate homeowners about the importance and implementation of and maintenance requirements for LID practices utilized in the Oak Terrace Preserve development in North Charleston. Copies of the fact sheet are available upon request (contact April Turner) or by downloading the following pdf file:
    Polluted Stormwater

Additionally, the S.C. Sea Grant Extension Program in collaboration with the Coastal Training Programs (CTP) of the North Inlet-Winyah Bay and ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRS), and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management are organizing LID demonstration workshops scheduled for October 2008, which will provide a hands-on demonstration of bioretention swale and pervious paver installation, as well as design requirements for engineers and developers that are interested in employing the use of these LID techniques for stormwater management.

Community Dune Restoration Project

volunteers erecting a fenceThe goal of the dune restoration project was to promote good stewardship of South Carolina coastal resources by providing an opportunity for community members and visitors of all ages to learn about the fragile beach-dune system and to contribute to the protection of the very resources they enjoy. A broad range of project partners from the private and public sector helped to make this a successful event. More than 175 participants installed 1,500 linear feet of sand fencing and planted 3,000 sea oats to encourage the formation of new sand dunes on a barrier island. Volunteers learned about the value of the dune systems as a protective barrier from storm surge. Some of the private sector partners were able to raise money to generate support and a source of future funding for dune restoration and re-vegetation in the coming years. Coming soon: Dune Restoration Toolbook!

Planning for Quality Growth

Jasper county stakeholdes workshopJasper County local government officials and residents were concerned with the lack of planning policies and zoning ordinances in the county and expressed a willingness to participate in a quality growth pilot project offered through the SC Sea Grant Extension Program. In August of 2004, the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium (SCSGC) in conjunction with the Jasper Soil and Water Conservation District (JSWCD), the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) began a countywide conservation planning effort. The Jasper County Natural Resources Conservation Plan has been developed as a result of numerous stakeholder workshops and focus group meetings and the input of more than 100 stakeholders representing local and regional government officials and staff, state and federal resource agencies, nonprofit conservation organizations, local businesses private land owners, and concerned citizens. The intended purpose of the plan is to serve as an informational guidebook for the residents of Jasper County and local developers, a resource and education tool for natural resource educators and planners, and most importantly, an inventory of biological data and innovative solutions of how to protect the many fragile ecosystems and species in the region.

The Jasper County Natural Resources Conservation Plan is scheduled for printing in September 2006, and will be available as an interactive PDF file on CD-Rom or as a downloadable file from the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Web site.


Collaborative Research to Prioritize and Model the Runoff Volume Sensitivities of Tidal Headwaters (Final Report submitted to the NERR Science Collaborative, 08/13/2015)

This report builds on past research efforts to help Beaufort County reduce stormwater volume and control its negative impacts. The ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve worked in partnership with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, University of South Carolina-Beaufort (USCB), NOAA Hollings Marine Laboratory, and S.C. Sea Grant Consortium to provide decision-makers in Beaufort County with credible data identifying those waters most sensitive to stormwater runoff. Through an ongoing collaborative process with the County, five watersheds of critical interest were instrumented with rain gauges and salinity sensor arrays to monitor the movement of freshwater through these systems from volume sensitive headwaters to volume insensitive downstream waters. A total of 32 sites were monitored using the salinity measurement as the primary indicator of the volume of stormwater entering the estuarine ecosystem. Additionally, the report contains the results of statistical analyses conducted on the salinity data, rainfall, and various watershed parameters to develop predictive models that can be used by Beaufort County to inform policy and management decisions. Funding for this project was provided by a grant from the NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve Science Collaborative. 2015. 63 pp. View Full Document in Low Resolution PDF or High Resolution PDF

Please stay tuned for updated information on upcoming efforts, events, and publications related to coastal communities! For more information or questions regarding coastal communities programs, please contact April Turner (843) 953-2078.

Coastal Growth-Related Links

Coastal Growth Related Publications

Last updated: 8/10/2017 2:56:46 PM
Coastal Communities


Page Tools Print this page
E-mail this page
Bookmark this page

Coastal Science Serving South Carolina
Copyright © 2001-2019 South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium
Turbulent Flow Image Courtesy of Prof. Haris J. Catrakis, University of California, Irvine
Privacy & Accessibility