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Public Lab Research note

Folly Beach, SC - a detailed look at a $3 million beach "restoration"

by adam-griffith | May 14, 2013 20:19 14 May 20:19 | #7552 | #7552

Sand is currently being pumped from a borrow area on the north side of Folly Beach to the shoreface on the south side of the island in an effort to stop perpetual erosion from storms and rising sea levels. The project is being funded by Charleston County Parks and Recreation and carried out by Coastal Science and Engineering (CSE), a Columbia, SC based firm. The Coastal Conservation League challenged the monitoring plan proposed by CSE, but relented prior to legal action.

Skimmer Flats, important bird nesting grounds, are located only ½ mile from the southern tip of the island. Construction of the 745 foot long groin (see map - groin is to scale) will change sediment transport dynamics, and even if Skimmer Flats lose 50% of their area over 5 years or 35% in one year, “mitigation at Skimmer Flats will only be required if…..erosion of Skimmer Flats is attributed to the groin” (OCRM-DHEC P/N SAC-2012-237 2IG). The project is happening during turtle nesting season and ornithologists have spotted 5 Wilson’s Plover nests on the southern tip of Folly Spit.

Kite aerial photography notes: I acquired the images on April 29th and 30th using Mathew Lippincott’s Tyvek delta kite design. In 15 MPH winds, my Sutton Flowform 16 was too unstable using 110# line and a 1 ft. wide by 4 ft. long spinner sock on a Y tail. I did get some usable images from the Sutton Flowform, but had much better success using the delta kite due to its wider range of suitable wind speeds and high (75 degree) flying angle.

Cartographer notes: To make the map, I followed these steps: 1) mosaic images using Microsoft Image Composite Editor into 4 large chunks 2) georeference chunks in ArcGIS 10.1 3) mosaic chunks in Photoshop CS5, adjust brightness, contrast, and feather edges 4) georeference mosaic in ArcGIS 10.1 (It only needed 2 control points).

This was my first big map using the photoshop technique shown to me by Stewart Long and I hope to get both faster and better at it. This map probably took me 40 hours to make, but I had not used photoshop much prior to this.

This map was made by research scientist Adam Griffith at the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University.


The GeoTIFF map can be downloaded here:

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The 217 MB folder with the GeoTIFF is here:

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Glad to see it still flying! did you fly from land or water?

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From land. I hate flying from water. But at a result, I couldn't get all the land. =/

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there's a Groin proposed for restoration? suck.

Raccoon Island, LA, has a "breakwater" as opposed to a groin; there's a longshore migration as well as a transgressive migration

it's the island all the way west here:,-90.34943,10.041,latLng&t=0.00

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whoops, i mean, here, -90.823975,10.041,latLng&t=0.00

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Scott - that link is awesome! You can see barrier islands shift, migrate, dissolve, and reform. Thanks for showing it to me!

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