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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Salt Marsh Initiative aims to protect SC lowcountry from storm surges

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Friday, June 7, 2024   

With hurricane season underway, South Carolina's 344,000 acres of salt marshes are the first line of defense for the state's lowcountry against storm surge - but only if they stay healthy.

As climate change drives Atlantic storms to higher frequency and intensity, environmental scientists have developed plans to protect the salt marshes. Brita Jessen, interdisciplinary research and partnerships lead for the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, said it's crucial to protect the state's coastal wetlands.

"Salt marshes help reduce the impact of flooding," she said. "Because they can absorb some of that excess water that's coming up into our infrastructure, they can hold in and kind of contain that water, and that's a really important impact to our communities, and way of life as well."

Jessen said the marshes not only protect the lowcountry from flooding and erosion but also provide a rich habitat for plants and animals. Scientists and government agencies have developed the South Atlantic Salt Marsh Initiative plan to protect the region's salt marsh ecosystem.

South Carolina has the largest network of salt marshes on the Atlantic coast, greatly increasing habitat for aquatic life. Jessen said the salt marshes act as both a natural and an economic buffer, providing almost $700,000 of value per mile by reducing the impacts of storm surge and flooding.

"The most important part is that it's providing an area of friction that is able to attenuate the amount of energy coming into a coastal area from the storm," she said. "There's a lot of wind and wave energy."

Developers of the Salt Marsh Initiative have said the plan has two main strategies: to protect and restore the existing salt marshes, and to conserve habitat and migration corridors.

Denise Sanger, a senior scientist at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said officials need to develop better ways to guard against sea-level rise.

"So we've got to have a healthy marsh and sediment coming onto it for them to keep up with sea-level rise onto it," she said, "and I don't think we have as good of a handle on the expanses that we have and how well each one of them will respond."


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