Date of Award

1-1-2009

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

School of Environment

Sub-Department

Earth and Environmental Resources Management

First Advisor

Rudolph E. Mancke

Second Advisor

Edward R. Carr

Abstract

In the past numerous roads were constructed to access many of the barrier islands along the coast of South Carolina. Many of these islands are surrounded by large areas of salt marsh. In the process of dredging and filling for roadbeds through these marshes, existing tidal creeks were routinely filled and cut off from oceanic tidal flow by constructed causeways. The Highway 174 Causeway in Edisto Beach, SC is one example. These manmade obstructions to tidal flooding have far-reaching impacts in coastal wetlands, including altered vegetation, sediment biogeochemistry, water quality, sediment inputs, fish and wildlife populations, recreational use, and potential future uses. There is an increasing interest to wetland hydrology restoration. Wetland restoration is a complex process that requires planning, implementation, monitoring, and management. Each activity involves social, legal an environmental issues while the overall program aim is to restore the natural and historical wetlands that have been lost or degraded due to manmade obstruction-induced impairments. Although numerous efforts have been made to establish the impact of the Highway 174 Causeway on the nearby marshland environment, there has never been a study conducted to evaluate the social and legal issues related to the impact of the Causeway. For this thesis, research was conducted to examine the community's concern for environmental conditions in the area, the safety and efficiency of the Causeway as an evacuation route during storm water events, and the desire of members in the community to restore the natural hydrology. Surveys were mailed to members of the community and the results are analyzed as part of this study. This study concludes with a suggested path of action to help restore this ecosystem to its once natural state.

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