Columbia, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Law Enforcement Division is reminding boaters throughout the state that Governor 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 28th, Governor McMaster extended for another 15 days the declared State of Emergency in S.C. This 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 issued by governor on March 30th, 2020 remains in effect until notified otherwise. The applicable order regarding water activities 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 as always 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. Again, 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. It 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 the governor will be out in force in the coming days with a stepped-up schedule of water patrols. This will continue until the current State of Emergency is lifted. 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.
In Lexington County, this order includes all island beaches on Lake Murray to include Sandy Beach and Spence Island. It also encompasses sandbars on the Saluda and Congaree rivers. The same order covers many other areas in S.C. and you are responsible for knowing before you go what the rules for your destination are. You can find all the information you need to be safe and to help you from being fined on the SCDNR's website at www.dnr.sc.gov.