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Lowcountry Lecture: “Tidal Wetlands of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers”
September 19, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
“Tidal Wetlands of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers” – Norm Shea, Sharleen Johnson, SCDNR
To accommodate larger container ships, the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project plans to increase channel depths by 5-7 ft and extend the entrance channel 3 miles seaward. Predicted changes to the environment resulting from the deepening were modeled under a range of scenarios, and these models identified potentially significant changes to salinity regimes in certain wetland habitats. The USACE’s Wetland Impact Assessment concluded that tidal freshwater marshes (<0.5 ppt) would experience a shift toward species more commonly found in oligohaline (0.5-5.0 ppt) marshes. SCDNR was contracted by the USACE to document the plant communities present along a salinity-elevation gradient in the Cooper and Ashley River systems in fall and spring prior to the start of the harbor deepening project, to serve as a baseline for evaluating changes in these plant communities that may result from the deepening. Norm and Sharleen, biologists with SCDNR, will share photos and stories of their experiences visiting 10 wetland transects in each river system (for a total of 120 fixed monitoring plots) in September 2016 and April-May 2017.