Pawleys Island wetland at the heart of precedent-setting conservation bill (Update: Big business fights back)

Photo by TheDigitel Myrtle Beach

Update June 3, 2012: In our first report (below) we described this story as classic "capitalists versus conservationists." It appears the capitalists have orchestrated a strong enough lobbying effort to take a lot of bite out of the original ruling.

The real estate industry has removed DHEC from the equation with a "compromise bill." The State has more details here

First Report: Last year, a S.C. Supreme Court case involving a Pawleys Island piece of land brought to light the fact that real estate developers could fill in isolated wetlands without any sort of permitting or approval. Now that case is the basis for a statewide permitting program being discussed in Columbia this coming week.

The Sun News ran a story on the original lawsuit last summer. Read that here. It's a classic capitalists versus conservationists dispute.

Specifically, the discussion revolves around isolated wetlands that aren't connected to other water sources. They simply hold their own water as they flood from rains. Due to the isolated nature of the water, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control didn't have any regulatory authority over them. If you fill these areas with enough dirt, you've created some prime real estate on the cheap. According to The State, about 20% of South Carolina is made up of wetlands. Isolated freshwater wetlands make up about 15% of those wetlands. The State has a great write-up on what they expected will be a heated debate. Read more here.

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