The Port Royal Sound Foundation Board of Trustees has considered the proposal of Six Senses to construct an “eco-resort” on Bay Point Island at the mouth of Port Royal Sound, and for reasons discussed below, opposes this project completely.
While such an environmentally oriented tourist resort could potentially be a real asset to Beaufort County, Bay Point Island is absolutely the wrong place for it to be located.
The mission of the Port Royal Sound Foundation is to preserve the Port Royal Sound for the environmental, cultural and economic well-being of our area.
The Sound is one of the most unique bodies of water on the east coast of the United States. The Foundation and its partners, including over 100 volunteers, are engaged daily in educating people about the wonderful treasure that is the Port Royal Sound.
The Sound provides critical habitat for an amazing number of resident and migratory birds. Its healthy waters sustain a variety of marine species, including 17 species of shark, Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, and nesting loggerhead turtles.
It is also an area of historic significance, being the location of early European colonization, the site of one of the most significant naval battles of the Civil War, and the place where Reconstruction began. It is a place that is treasured by its residents and its visitors.
The Foundation believes that the proposed development will jeopardize much of what makes the Sound unique and therefore must oppose it.
Specifically, the Port Royal Sound Foundation opposes this project for the following reasons:
• Bay Point is a dynamic, very low-lying piece of dry land at the edge of the ocean, subject to complete inundation in the event of a serious hurricane. It has eroded significantly in just the last 10 years and the rising sea levels and changing climate patterns will accelerate the erosion process. Passage to and from the island can be very challenging on most days as tides and winds collide across the Sound.
• As the name implies, Bay Point is a small barrier island jutting into the Atlantic Ocean at the entrance to a bay which is the Port Royal Sound. It is home to both permanent and migrating species of birds, animals and insects, none of which will benefit from the development.
• While we appreciate the promises that Bay Point will be a model “eco-development,” the building and maintaining of permanent structures on the island will destroy much of its fragile ecosystem. The infrastructure required for operations, including wastewater treatment and disposal, will be very intrusive. The regular occupation of the island by dozens to hundreds of people needed to operate the development at the level proposed will devastate that ecosystem.
• The development’s impact on the rest of the Port Royal Sound’s ecosystem should be considered. The economic return to the county from such a development will be very small, and one bad storm could result in significant expense to the residents of Beaufort County.
• The core premise of “ecotourism” includes protecting and preserving the ecology of the area. This proposal fails that test. The Six Senses resort will destroy much of Bay Point’s function as a rookery and nesting site for birds and turtles. The risks from sewage and other pollutants spilling into the Sound are simply much greater than the benefits.
• The Six Senses proposition has appealing elements, but Bay Point is not the place for this project. Six Senses should find another site.
The health of Beaufort County is dependent on the health of the Port Royal Sound. It is vitally important that we are all good stewards of the Sound and keep it healthy for our community, families, home values, businesses, tourism and, of course, the animals and sea life that live in and around it.
We applaud their desire to educate visitors about the Sound, and if Six Senses decides to locate their development in a more appropriate place in Beaufort County, the Foundation will lend its support.
Chairman, Board of Trustees
Port Royal Sound Foundation