Jump to main content.

Governments Plan for Development of Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level: Berkeley County, South Carolina

Additional background prepared by the staff of Industrial Economics, and Jim Titus

Daniel Island
Daniel Island, which lies at the southern tip of Berkeley County, has been annexed into the City of Charleston. The southeastern tip of the island is state-owned property. The South Carolina State Port Authority planned to build a container port there that would have been one of the largest in the country, but strong opposition led to state legislation in 2002 that bars the building of a terminal on Daniel Island. The potential value of development there creates a market pressure to develop the island; the Port Authority has not yet decided what to do with this property. Nevertheless, with high land values, the county views the entire island as almost certain to be protected.
Clouter Island
Clouter Island, the small island to the west of Daniel Island bisected by I-526, is undeveloped and the County expects that it will probably remain so for the foreseeable future. A portion of Clouter Island is a US Navy Reservation. The nonwetland portion of the reservation is depicted as red, following our general approach for military lands. The Port Authority uses most of the island to deposit dredged materials from the Cooper and Wando rivers, which elevated the land surface of the island. Although the island is not being elevated for the sake of protecting land or structures, the current use of the island inherently is a type of shore protection, and thus it is unlikely that wetlands will overtake the island within the time horizon of this study.
Cainhoy Peninsula
The southern portion of the Cainhoy Peninsula between the Cooper and Wando include areas with low-density development and hence the county suggested that it ought to be shown as shore protection likely, given the current lack of infrastructure and population. Just to the east of the low-density areas, the rural areas of Cainhoy and Wando are currently experiencing growth. The proximity to the river and marshes is important to the attractiveness of these subdivisions. Some of the new subdivisions closer to Charleston are linked to county sewage systems. The county representatives indicated that this area is almost certain to be protected. The southwest portion of the Cainhoy Peninsula, the area most accessible to Charleston and Daniel Island, is the only portion of the peninsula designated for medium-density residential use on the 2004 Berkeley County Future Land Use map. County representatives confirmed that this area is almost certain to be protected. The northern portion of the Cainhoy Peninsula currently has little infrastructure or development. Many of these areas were designated on the 2004 Berkeley County Future Land Use map as either Industry or Rural Village. Despite these designations, the county views other areas in the county as more likely to see industrial development than the Cooper River area. As a result, this area is shown as shore protection likely.
Eastern Berkeley
Sparsely populated eastern Berkeley County is far inland and dominated by Francis Marion National Forest. Citing the low population density and the low value of property in the eastern half of the county, the county representatives indicated that the rural communities of Bonnie, Huger, Jamestown, St. Stephen, and Schuylerville should be depicted as shore protection likely rather than shore protection certain. These communities are all surrounded by areas where shore protection is either unlikely or precluded by existing conservation policies.

The Conservation Easements data layer shows the location of several plantations in the Cooper River Historic District. Properties under easement in the study area are the following: Blessing (Lowcountry Open Land Trust), Bluff Plantation (Nature Conservancy), Kensington (LOLT), Medway (Ducks Unlimited, Historic Charleston Foundation), Middleburg (LOLT), Mulberry (Historic Charleston Foundation), NUCOR (Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust), South Mulberry (LBCT), and Wadboo North (LBCT). With the exception of the Bonneau Ferry tract, all properties are privately owned and under conservation easement. Although the easements severely limit the future development of these properties, there is no mechanism that explicitly prohibits shoreline protection. Therefore, these areas are shown as shore protection unlikely.

In March 2004, the paper company MeadWestvaco sold the Bonneau Ferry tract, a 10,637-acre parcel of land, to The Conservation Fund on behalf of SCDNR. We show this tract of land as light green to reflect the ownership by a conservation NGO. This property is located along the Cooper River and includes the remnants of the Comingtee Plantation.

County staff told us that it is likely that other properties in the 30,000-acre Cooper River Historic District will be put into easements in the future. The Berkeley County zoning administrator does not expect future residential development within or surrounding the Cooper River Historic District. Most plantations are privately owned and thus would not receive public funding for shore protection measures. Therefore, the county representatives believe that areas in the Cooper River Historic District not under conservation easement should be shown as protection unlikely.

West of the Cooper River
The County Representatives told us that the high-density growth corridor along US-52 between Goose Creek and Moncks Corner was accurately depicted as shore protection uncertain.

Top of page

Governments Plan for Development of Most Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea (PDF, 7 pp., 1.3 MB, was originally published in Environmental Research Letters , Issue 3, Volume 4 (2009).

Top of page

| Main Study | Elevation Maps | Planning Maps | Related Links

About the Site | Glossary


Local Navigation

Jump to main content.