The City Magazine Since 1975

State of the Creek

August 2016
State of the Creek
PHOTOGRAPHER: 
How Shem Creek fares in Mount Pleasant’s current population and development boom is a microcosm of growing pains affecting the Lowcountry

On the surface, picturesque Shem Creek, with its colorful shrimp trawlers decked with outriggers and nets, appears to represent everything good about the Lowcountry. A beautiful day brings droves of adventure-seekers on kayaks and SUPs who paddle amidst frolicking bottlenose dolphins and armadas of brown pelicans. Rambling homes overlook marshlands where tall white egrets wade in the shallows. Waterside restaurants and bars offer dining and drinking options, as well as dock access, for those taking in the scene.

Yet Shem Creek’s present prosperity comes with a price. Alongside Mount Pleasant’s unprecedented boom in population and development (the Census Bureau recently ranked it as the 10th fastest growing city in the nation) come genuine fears about the erosion of the creek’s character and its nearly 100-year-old shrimping industry—not to mention ecological issues with unseen pollutants on the rise. In many ways, Shem Creek mirrors the growing pains affecting the entire Lowcountry, casting thought-provoking reflections—some good and others not-so-good—of what can happen when a community burgeons from a quiet coastal village into a bustling metropolis.

To read the next section, “Creek of History,” click here.

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