Some S.C. beaches targeted as critical loggerhead turtle habitat - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Some S.C. beaches targeted as critical loggerhead turtle habitat

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Threatened loggerhead sea turtles on Folly Beach and all along the eastern seaboard may be getting some government support.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified portions of island and mainland coastal beaches in six states to propose as critical habitat.

"It's been listed as an endangered species since 1978," said Public Affairs Specialist Jennifer Koches, with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

But the loggerhead sea turtle could be getting some help under the Endangered Species Act.

Dozens of beaches considered vital for the turtles may soon be designated as critical habitat.

"Critical habitat is essentially a geographic designation -- areas that are necessary for the recovery of the species," she added.

Koches says the proposed critical habitat areas include 90 nesting beaches in coastal counties.

"The proposal for critical habitat designation goes all the way from North Carolina down around Florida and then across over to Alabama," Koches said. "So in South Carolina, there are gonna be about 22 units of designated critical habitat."

Folly Beach is just one among many beaches in South Carolina, where according to the Division of Natural Resources, approximately 4,600 loggerhead sea turtles nested in 2012.

"The numbers are doing pretty good and there's a small trend upward that we're seeing," she said, "but on the whole, we still have a long way to go for the recovery of the species."

The targeted areas in South Carolina extend from Georgetown County to Beaufort County.

Koches says it won't impact public access.

The proposal will be posted to the Federal Register on Monday and that opens a 60-day public comment period.

It will also be reviewed by four independent sea turtle researchers.

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