The chairman of the board on the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has run into trouble with Gov. Henry McMaster and nation coastal regulators over the construction of seawalls along the oceanfront near his seashore house in Georgetown County.
DNR board chairman Norman Pulliam lobbied this past week to help assets owners at Debordieu Beach rebuild a seawall they say will protect their waterfront investments from the ocean. But McMaster’s office ordered Pulliam, a governor’s appointee, to prevent the lobbying because the governor didn’t want to ease state regulations on seawalls at Debordieu.
Pulliam does no longer personal a residence on the Debordieu oceanfront however has buddies there. He owns a 2nd home at nearby South Litchfield Beach, wherein a brand new seawall is drawing scrutiny from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The Legislature banned new seawalls in the overdue 1980s because the rock, concrete and timber systems make seaside erosion worse, giving the public less room to stroll on and imperiling flora and fauna that wishes a sandy seashore. McMaster vetoed regulation that could have given the Debordieu assets owners a brief exemption from the kingdom’s greater than 30-yr-antique seawall ban.
“Staff individuals explained we had been on one side of that bill and he (Pulliam) become on the alternative, and we would love him to recognize that position,’’ McMaster stated Tuesday. The governor and Pulliam stated the DNR leader stop speakme in choose of the Debordieu seawall after the meeting with the governor’s personnel.
Meanwhile, Pulliam’s own family seaside residence is one among sixteen underneath scrutiny over the development of wood bulkheads, or seawalls, alongside the oceanfront at South Litchfield Beach, just a few miles up the coast from Debordieu, in step with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Information launched Friday through DHEC says the agency determined 11 of the bulkheads in January and discovered every other five in March and April. The corporation has ordered a number of the wooden walls removed and is working with the final belongings owners, the branch said in an electronic mail.
“The Department maintains to work with the assets proprietors on progress toward compliance of this be counted to keep away from similarly motion,’’ in line with the email from DHEC spokesman Tommy Crosby.
Reached Friday, Pulliam said belongings proprietors at Debordieu and South Litchfield are clearly trying to shield their homes from the sea. Pulliam stated his wall turned into one of the remaining constructed on South Litchfield, a gated community throughout an inlet from Pawleys Island.
“We need to guard what we will as long as we will,’’ Pulliam stated. “I made a major investment after I built this residence. It’s a retirement domestic.’’
The Pulliam domestic is amongst about 30 on South Litchfield’s southern spit, the narrowest part of the landscape within the vicinity, in keeping with Georgetown County belongings facts. In recent years, 3 to four main storms have washed away defensive dunes, destroyed walkways and shrubbery, and he’s needed to update his irrigation gadget, Pulliam said. The wall prevents sand from washing under his home, he stated. Property facts show the house is worth about $2.6 million.
Emily Cedzo, who tracks coastal problems for the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, declined comment on Pulliam however she said conservationists count on an strive within the Legislature subsequent yr to ease kingdom building regulations alongside the oceanfront.
The destiny of the nation’s ban on seawalls has been of increasing discussion in current years as cash to renourish seashores has turn out to be tougher to get. Without renourishment to unfold more sand at the shore, seawalls would grow to be the subsequent way to assist buffer houses from rising sea degrees and extra severe storms, that are attributable to the earth’s changing climate.
In his situation, Pulliam said the owners of the extra than 30 oceanfront lots at South Litchfield don’t have $12 million to widen the beach with greater sand, which might better defend their houses from the ocean. Pulliam stated the Legislature may amend the kingdom’s coastal law subsequent yr.
“I’ve had a bunch of legislators come to me — two referred to as this morning — who say ‘We need to assist write some thing anybody up and down the coast can stay with,’ ’’ said Pulliam, who stated he’s “very plenty a conservationist’’ however humans have a right to defend their houses.
Pulliam, a Spartanburg resident, is widely seemed for his charitable work and his efforts to shop land from improvement throughout South Carolina. In a recent Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce video honoring him for his work in the network, these days retired DNR director Alvin Taylor referred to as Pulliam “a man that has lots integrity, and does what he says.’’
Of his lobbying efforts within the Legislature this past week, Pulliam stated he was satisfied to forestall advocating to permit the Debordieu seawall after McMaster’s office explained its worries. He stated he changed into trying to assist friends at Debordieu.
Debordieu Beach is an special network between Myrtle Beach and Georgetown. Property proprietors on the island’s severe south end have fought for years to restore the battered seawall that they say has blanketed their investments.
But the failing seawall juts properly onto the public seashore and critics say it must not get replaced. Otherwise, it’s going to preserve to block get entry to along the shore while making erosion worse, a specific concern as sea stage rises. When hit through the ocean, seawalls generally tend to speed up seaside erosion.
Some conservationists say Pulliam ought to have prompt clear of talking to the Legislature this beyond week. The Department of Natural Resources is one in all 3 number one nation groups that address environmental problems, and part of its assignment is to guard coastal resources.
Sea turtles that need sandy seashores to nest on can be blocked by means of seawalls, environmentalist Bob Guild stated. Guild said McMaster need to now not have needed to order Pulliam to forestall lobbying for seawalls.
“How ironic is it which you might have an business enterprise head whose activity it’s far protecting endangered species like sea turtles, basically arguing for exceptions for structures like this,’’ Guild stated. “Did he need to be informed that?’’