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greenery sits in the foreground of a salt marsh
The Edisto Salt Marsh Creation Project will re-establish tidal connection between Russel Creek and historic channels on the south side of the berm. (NOAA)

Draft Restoration Plan Released for Public Comment for Marsh and Oyster Restoration in South Carolina

March 28, 2023

The Trustee Council for the ExxonMobil Former Fertilizer Plants case released a draft restoration plan and environmental assessment (PDF, 67 Pages) in March 2023 for public review and comment.

In 2019 a $6.3 million pollution settlement was reached to implement a range of restoration projects. The draft plan identifies the Trustees’ preferred restoration option, including salt marsh and oyster reef creation projects on Edisto Island and Port Royal Sound, respectively.

The Edisto Island salt marsh creation project proposes to create up to 17 acres of salt marsh habitat on property owned and maintained by the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission. This hydrologic restoration project would remove or reduce a deteriorated dike and re-establish tidal flow behind the dike. The oyster reef creation project would create about 3 acres of oyster reef habitat in the area of Port Royal, South Carolina. 

Several former fertilizer sites in coastal South Carolina released contaminants to approximately 100 acres of nearby salt marshes, as well as to the Ashley and Beaufort rivers. The impacts of these releases include:

  • Lingering heavy metals in the nearby groundwater;
  • Mortality, reduced growth, and hindered reproductive health of marine and estuarine organisms;
  • Harm to culturally and economically significant species including shrimp, oysters, drum, and blue crab; and
  • Injury to migratory species including American shad, blueback herring, striped bass, and the endangered shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon.

This draft plan is part of the 2019 Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) settlement with ExxonMobil. Trustee Council members for this case include NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Public Comment

The Trustee Council invites the public to submit comments on the proposed projects outlined in the Draft Restoration Plan during a 30-day comment period, open through April 30, 2023. Please submit your comments on the draft plan to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Submit comments by email to:


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Edisto Island Salt Marsh Creation project site with mounds of greenery and the foreground of a blue sky