April 29, 2020
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources' (SCDNR) Law Enforcement Division would like to remind boaters throughout the state that Gov. Henry McMaster's Executive Order prohibiting the beaching or "rafting" of boats on islands, sandbars or beaches statewide is still in effect.
On Monday, April 28, Gov. McMaster extended for an additional 15 days the declared State of Emergency in S.C that provides the legal foundation for of all of the Executive Orders that have been issued in recent weeks to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Executive Order 2020-16, issued by Gov. McMaster on March 30 (which remains in effect), states: "I further direct that the beaching or rafting of boats, whether on a sandbar, lakeshore, riverbank, or island, is prohibited for the duration of the State of Emergency. Vessels must remain underway at all times unless exigent circumstances exist. Anchoring to fish is allowed; however, rafting is prohibited under all circumstances."
The boating public should be aware that the Executive Order prohibiting beaching includes — but is not limited to — beaching to drop off others, camp, walk, have lunch, gather shells, or go to the restroom. Boaters must keep their boat underway or drifting at all times unless actively fishing or under exigent circumstances. This does not allow boaters to legally anchor and swim. Additionally, the Executive Order allowing municipalities and counties to open coastal beach access points to foot traffic DOES NOT provide for legal access to any beach or sandbar via boat.
SCDNR conservation officers tasked with educating the public and enforcing the orders issued by Gov. McMaster will be out in force in the coming days with a stepped-up schedule of water patrols until the current State of Emergency is lifted, but voluntary compliance with these orders is both strongly encouraged and necessary to prevent potential transmission of the virus. To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 the following SCDNR-managed properties, many of which are popular spots for boaters to congregate, remain closed until further notice. These include:
- The islands that make up the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center (This includes both the ocean-facing South Island and North Island, as well as Cat Island on the ICW) in Georgetown County
- Cedar Island and Murphy Island at Santee Coastal Reserve WMA in Georgetown County
- Capers Island Heritage Preserve in Charleston County
- The beach/beach access at Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve & WMA in Charleston County
- South Fenwick Island in the ACE Basin NERR in Colleton County
- The islands that make up the St. Helena Sound Heritage Preserve and WMA (including Pine Island, Otter Island, Ashe Island, Beet Island, Warren Island, Big Island, Buzzard Island, North Williman Island and South Williman Island) in the ACE Basin
- Daws Island Heritage Preserve on the Broad River in Beaufort County
- Turtle Island WMA in Jasper County
In addition, numerous other beaches, sandbars or other "hotspots" that traditionally attract large numbers of boaters gathering in crowds will be the focus of enhanced law enforcement patrols, including (but not limited to) the places listed below:
Beaufort County: The downtown Beaufort and Pigeon Point sandbars on the Beaufort River; the Pauki sandbar on McCally's Creek; the Morgan Island sandbar on the Morgan River; the Lemon Island sandbar on the Chechesee River; Cotton Island on the Whale Branch/Broad River; Bull Point; Bay Point; the "Little" bar and May River sandbars on the May River; Hunting Island (State Park) Beach and Capers Beach.
Berkeley County: The sandbar, rope swing area on the Cooper River; underneath the Tailrace Canal bridge on the Cooper River; Cat Island on the Wando River; the Wando River side of Daniel Island;
Charleston County: Cape Island (aka South End/Raccoon Key); Prices Inlet; Drum Island; DeWees Island; Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge beaches (closed to visitation by order of the USFWS); Morris Island/Cummings Point; Sandy Point; Lighthouse Inlet; the sandbar at Limehouse Landing; Wolf Island; Botany Island; No Name Beach; Deveaux Bank recreational areas; north end of Kiawah Island
Colleton County: Ashepoo River sandbar
Dorchester County: Ashley River Sandbar; Edisto River Sandbar (near Edisto River Adventures) Georgetown County: North Inlet beaches (Baruch Institute property); Debordieu Point (at the mouth of North Inlet); Sandy Island (Waccamaw River & Thoroughfare Creek); Lawshe Plantation on Black River Horry County: S.C. side of Bird Island in Little River; Waites Island and Lauderdale Bay (on the ICW); and "the Riviera" (on the Waccamaw River between Conway and Bucksville)
Anderson County: Party Island, Weldon Island and the Red Banks on Lake Hartwell
Berkeley County: Short Stay/Sommersett, the Hatchery sandbar, Coon Island; Chimney Island and Bird Island on lakes Marion & Moultrie
Darlington County: Easterling Landing on Lake Robinson
Fairfield County: Johnny's Island on Lake Wateree
Greenwood County: Goat Island; Upper and Lower sandbars on Lake Greenwood
Lexington County: All island beaches on Lake Murray to include Sandy Beach and Spence Island; sandbars on the Saluda and Congaree rivers
McCormick County: Aruba Beach on Lake Thurmond/Clarks Hill
Newberry County: All Island beaches on Lake Murray
Oconee County: "The Falls," Fall Creek beaches and "The Rock" on Lake Keowee
Pickens County: Cherry Crossing beach areas and the "Rock Quarry" on Lake Keowee
Richland County: Islands on the Broad, Saluda and Congaree rivers
Saluda County: All Island Beaches on Lake Murray
York County: Goat Island on Lake Wylie
Keep in mind that the above is a partial list only. SCDNR officers will continue to patrol all of the state's waterways, and the no beaching/rafting order is in force on ALL public waterways of the state. Please continue to boat safely and enjoy the water with family members while continuing to practice good social/physical distancing with those not in your immediate household and avoiding activities with the potential to spread this deadly virus to others. Violations or emergency situations on the water can be reported directly to SCDNR's Law Enforcement Division via our 24-7 hotline at 1-800-922-5431.