Savannah River islands attract a different type of tourist

Ellie Covington, a biologist with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District, and Sandy Beasley, a volunteer with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, count birds at Tybee Island, June 30. Savannah District biologists like Covington visit the island three times a month to monitor the number of birds following Tybee Island’s beach renournishment in December 2014.

Ellie Covington, a biologist with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District, and Sandy Beasley, a volunteer with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, count birds at Tybee Island, June 30. Savannah District biologists like Covington visit the island three times a month to monitor the number of birds following Tybee Island’s beach renournishment in December 2014.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Threatened by development and predators from every side, local birds here are finding safe, pristine habitats in an unlikely place: at the bottom of the Savannah River.

As part of environmental mitigation for the Savannah Harbor navigation project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District uses sediment dredged from the river to create islands along Savannah’s Back River.

The islands – four elliptical sand-covered strands ranging from four to eight acres each – are nestled within dredged material containment areas, or DCMAs, and designed to encourage threatened species of birds to nest and proliferate. Continue reading

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Video: Navy divers recover first of 4 remaining cannons

From left: Navy Diver 1st Class Spencer Puett of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 and Lt.j.g. Andrew Heckel of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 6, pose behind the cannon they rigged for recovery. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Potts

From left: Navy Diver 1st Class Spencer Puett of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 and Lt.j.g. Andrew Heckel of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 6, pose behind the cannon they rigged for recovery. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Potts

Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 6 raised the first of four remaining cannons from the CSS Georgia, July 15. (Click here to watch the three-minute video.)

This marked the first day the cannon, a “six-pounder,” which weighs nearly 1,000 pounds, has been above the river’s surface since the vessel was scuttled in 1864. The term six-pounder refers to the weight of the cannonball fired from the weapon.

Divers expect to begin recovery of the remaining three cannons this week and will continue to raise assorted machinery and sections of the armored “casemate” throughout the summer.

The overall recovery of the ironclad is the first phase in the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, or SHEP, which will deepen the river from 42 to 47 feet, extend its length by seven miles, widen three bends and add two meeting areas to better accommodate larger ships.

This video was produced and edited by Jeremy S. Buddemeier, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District. Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse A. Hyatt contributed reporting.

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Boys’ lives saved by rescuers, loaner life jackets at Hartwell Lake

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The collaborative efforts of a Hartwell Lake corps ranger and bystander saved two boys’ lives after the pair struggled to swim from a remote buoy to the beach shoreline June 3. Continue reading

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Reservoirs return to their routines as summer arrives

The erratic spring cycle of high highs and low lows appears to have leveled off in June, as each of the sub-basins arrived much closer to its 67-year average for the first month of summer. Continue reading

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Divers continue to unveil ‘little shards of life’ from CSS Georgia

Parker Brooks examines an elevator screw (right) and firing mechanism from a cannon. The elevator screw was used to change the height of the cannon. Photo by Chelsea G. Smith, USACE Savannah District

Parker Brooks examines an elevator screw (right, background) and firing mechanism from a cannon. The elevator screw was used to change the height of the cannon. Photo by Chelsea G. Smith, USACE Savannah District

Last week marine archaeologists diving on the CSS Georgia entered their fifth and final month of the small artifact recovery phase. And though the number of artifacts they have been discovering has slowed to a trickle, the nuance each new item adds to the growing narrative cannot be understated. Continue reading

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Lakes prepare for busy summer

rangerpicAs the temperatures rise and summer shifts into full gear, the recreation areas along the Savannah River Basin are, too. Continue reading

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As archaeologists recover artifacts, more questions rise to the surface

Parker Brooks, a conservator and graduate student from Texas A&M University’s Conservation Research Laboratory, demonstrates the function of an elevator screw prior to a free lecture on the CSS Georgia at the Savannah History Museum, June 2. Photo by Jeremy S. Buddemeier, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Corporate Communications Office

Parker Brooks, a conservator and graduate student from Texas A&M University’s Conservation Research Laboratory, demonstrates the function of an elevator screw prior to a free lecture on the CSS Georgia at the Savannah History Museum, June 2. Photo by Jeremy S. Buddemeier, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District

SAVANNAH, Ga. — She has been stripped by salvage rigs, battered by dredges and had her hull shredded by teredo worms, yet the tattered remnants of the CSS Georgia that were all but forgotten until the 1960s continue to intrigue archaeologists and the community here.

More than 200 people packed the small auditorium at the Savannah History Museum, June 2, to hear marine archaeologists relay discoveries from their daily dives over the past five months. Continue reading

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Rain gauges remain thirsty in May

After such a strong showing in April, where each of the sub-basins exceeded its 67-year average for that month, you had to wonder: Are these numbers sustainable? Now we know. Continue reading

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Lakes help prognosticator make good on Groundhog Day prediction

Way back in February, I gave my “Groundhog Day” reservoir predictions for Memorial Day, the beginning of the summer recreation season. Let’s see how I did this year: Continue reading

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Across the nation bald eagles are thriving; so why are they dying at Thurmond Lake?

Its origin is mysterious. Its prevalence ubiquitous.

Bald eagles perch at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers J. Strom Thurmond Lake. USACE photo, December 2009.

Bald eagles perch at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers J. Strom Thurmond Lake. USACE photo, December 2009.

The growing and invasive waterweed known as hydrilla beckons hungry waterfowl, known as coots, who fall prey to a lethal blue-green algae present on its leaves. The American bald eagles that prey on the coots, themselves become prey to the algae. Continue reading

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