St. George, S.C. --
On February 15, 2023, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District and Dorchester County signed a Project Partnership Agreement to design and restore approximately 290 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in Polk Swamp to a more natural condition.
The restoration will connect high functioning bottomland hardwood forests located upstream and downstream of the project area, expanding wetland corridors and reducing habitat fragmentation which will benefit species such as the American Wood Stork. To accomplish the restoration, channel blockages and invasive species will be removed and keystone bottomland hardwood species such as cypress and tupelo will be planted.
In 2010, Dorchester County, South Carolina requested the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District’s assistance to complete a reclamation project “to restore the Polk Swamp ecosystem to a more natural condition”. The Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment was completed in Nov 2015 and the Final Report was approved by South Atlantic Division in 2016.
In 2022, $99,000 was provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to negotiate a Project Partnership Agreement and scope the preconstruction, engineering, and design (PED) phase for the restoration of Polk Swamp.
Construction is anticipated to begin in 2025 and will take three years to fully implement due to multiple phases of invasive species removal and native planting.
The degradation has been attributed to the restriction of flow through the swamp’s stream channels caused by a large number of trees being blown down by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Since then, an estimated 205 acres of bottomland hardwood forest has died.
“This signing allows us to move into the next phase of the project, preconstruction, engineering and design, also known as PED,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Johannes, district commander, U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers, Charleston District. “The team can now start studying the design and engineering that will go into restoring this beautiful ecosystem. Once PED is complete and funding is received, we will move into the construction phase, projected to begin in 2025.”
The Polk Swamp project area is located west of the Town of St. George in Dorchester County, South Carolina. St. George is located approximately 50 miles northwest of Charleston, South Carolina.