Sea Turtle Protection Project
In 2018, the Town began implementing steps to protect sea turtles. Phase I has been implemented and 6 turtle friendly lights were installed at locations that ranked highest for hatching misorientations. Although the new street lights were changed to provide more protection to sea turtles, they did not resolve issues with misorientations of sea turtles.
Before installing additional fixtures along the beachfront, the Town tested several fixtures to determine if they reduced misorientations. After the testing phase was completed, a fixture was selected and the Town negotiated an agreement with Dominion for the next phase which includes installing 47 dimmable turtle friendly streetlights.
In April 2020, the Town acquired a $50,000 US Fish and Wildlife Service grant titled "Edisto Beach Sea Turtle Lighting Project". This grant will offset a portion of the costs associated with the new turtle friendly streetlights.
Staff also contacted homeowners with homes that have unshielded visible lights in parking areas or on walkways. The Town has ordered magnets to educate the public regarding sea turtle protection.
Patrick Brown, Project Manager
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Dominion is scheduled to begin installation of the sea turtle friendly lights along Palmetto Boulevard and Point Street April 19, 2021.
The lights have been partially delivered to Dominion. The remaining have components that were slightly delayed. The current estimated arrival for installation if the second full week in April.
Town Council approved entering into an agreement with Dominion Energy to install turtle friendly streetlights along Palmetto Boulevard. The grant will pay a portion of the costs for a period of 10 years. This improvement will result in a $189 increase in streetlight costs per month.
After reviewing the samples installed, new fixtures have been ordered.
Dominion installed the sample turtle friendly fixtures on June 15, 2020. They are being evaluated to see if they cause negative impacts to nesting or hatching sea turtles.
The Town is working with Dominion to have several different samples of lights installed to determine which will provide the best protection against sea turtle misorientations before replacing a majority of the lights. COVID 19 has delayed the implementation of this process.