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Pawleys Island: With sand back on dune, town wants to keep it there

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Property owners on Pawleys Island who are seeing sand pushed back on to eroded sand dunes want to make sure it stays there. Town Council this week approved a plan to pay half the cost up to $200 a lot if owners want to install sand fence on the new dune.

But the geologist whose firm has done sand studies for the town said the fences aren’t likely to help in most cases because there isn’t enough sand in the system to be trapped by the fences. “The basic prerequisite for dunes is a dry sand beach out in front of the dune,” said Tim Kana, founder of Coastal Science and Engineering.

Crews started work this month to scrape sand from the beach and push up a 6-foot-high dune to replace sand lost to a series of storms in October. The town spent five months seeking state and federal permits for the work. Scraping on the narrow south end was completed last week and the pan scrapers and bulldozers are now moving north toward Pawleys Pier. The First Street beach access is due to close so the equipment can work south from the pier.

Mayor Bill Otis said owners have already asked about putting up sand fencing. He got an estimate of the cost that council used for its matching program. “I’ve seen some pretty amazing things as far as building the dunes up,” Council Member Rocky Holliday said.

That may be true in some places, Kana said. But most areas of the island don’t have enough sand to trap. “In many cases it’s going to be counterproductive,” he said. “It’s not something I would try to do community-wide.”

For the match, owners must put fence on the slope of the dune. Kana said a better place would be on the top of the dune. “You have to take these case by case,” he said.

What the town needs is a new sand supply, Kana said. “That’s the time to do sand fencing.”

The town will start that process this spring with the creation of a beach committee chaired by Holliday to consider options and their costs.

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