The Grand Strand is booming — there’s no doubt about that. But many residents recently expressed concern about continued beachfront development, and some decided to step up and do something about it.
In May, with the help of generous donations from the community, the city of North Myrtle Beach completed the purchase for a majority portion of land known as Ingram Dunes—Though the purchase wasn’t quite as smooth as it sounds; it was only finalized after the South Carolina Environmental Law Project filed a suit against Hillside Development, LLC to challenge a proposal to build 30+ new houses on the preserve. After years of back-and-forth, the appeal finally passed to protect a majority of the protected space.
The groups settled on an agreement where the city will now own 7.24 acres of the 9.35-acre property, which will be protected, while the other 2.11 acres will be available for development.
But what’s the history behind this historic property, and what does the final suit mean for the future of the preserve?
Find out in our Ingram Dunes deep dive.
Where is Ingram Dunes?
Located in the heart of North Myrtle Beach in the charming Crescent Beach neighborhood, Ingram Dunes is the last plot of dunes land that has remained untouched. The plot is just under 10-acres in size and is the last remaining relic dunes of its kind in South Carolina, and is one of the highest dunes along the Carolina coast.
It is located off Hillside Drive in North Myrtle Beach between 9th Avenue South and 10th Avenue South.
What is Ingram Dunes?
Ingram Dunes is considered a ‘relic dune’. This particular plot of land sits parallel to the beach, located only a block away, but is 50-feet above sea level. It is estimated that the natural dune was formed 80,000 – 100,000 years ago when the beach landscape was much higher. Today, the dune is home to many native wildlife species, including deer, owls and migratory birds, foxes, turtles, and more. Additionally, the ancient dunes house spectacular live oak trees that are a rare and welcomed sight along the NMB coast.
What Happened to Ingram Dunes?
In 2016, a local developer (Hillside Development, LLC) submit a proposal to the City of North Myrtle Beach to develop the dune area with a 31-home subdivision. The plan would bulldoze the dune and flatten the property, eliminating the historic natural landscape and threatening the remaining native wildlife.
A group of concerned citizens stepped up to the plate and fought the development. Through the efforts of local and national conservation organizations, state entities—including the City of North Myrtle Beach, local city council, and dozens of local residents, the city was able to purchase and preserve the Ingram Dunes property.
Moving forward, the property will be used as a passive park and nature preserve.
How Much Did It Cost To Buy Ingram Dunes?
The total purchase price for Ingram Dunes was $3.1 million dollars.
The purchase was secured through a generous $1.4 million donation from the Ingram Family, $500,000 from the city of North Myrtle Beach, $500,000 from the South Carolina Conservation Bank, and the rest from generous donations that helped raise money for the effort.
Why Preserve Ingram Dunes?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions—why bother preserving the dunes?
Ingram Dunes represents the last unspoiled portion of relic dunes in the North Myrtle Beach area and is one of the highest relic dunes remaining in the Carolinas. Once this coastal maritime forest is destroyed, it cannot be replaced.
The dunes are also quite functional and control local flooding through natural water absorption. Without this ~10-acre stretch of land, the stormwater flow of the entire Crescent Beach area would likely be impacted. The dunes keep beaches and waterways clean and save the city of North Myrtle Beach millions of dollars on stormwater mitigation.
Additionally, the stretch of land is a true hidden gem and favorite local attraction for visitors and locals alike. Many visit the dunes each year, and the property already features ready-made pathways for enjoyment and plenty of built-in shade, which serves as a natural reprieve during the hot summer months.
Generations of residents have enjoyed this little slice of natural history—and now many more generations can as well.
Can I Visit Ingram Dunes?
Yes — the Ingram Dunes Natural Area is free and open to the public.
The City of Myrtle Beach Parks and Recreation will maintain the park property but will not alter what already exists to ensure preservation. The city plans to keep the property pathways tidy and also add in ID cards to showcase native wildlife and trees.
When visiting, take care to not alter or destroy any of the natural habitat. Clean up after yourself if you happen to bring snacks or a pet, and do not leave any garbage behind.
You can learn more about the history of the ‘Save Ingram Dunes’ campaign, how Horry County stepped up to the plate to save this historic habitat, and visiting the dunes at IngramDunes.org or on the Ingram Dunes Facebook Page.
Be sure to pencil in a visit to this truly beautiful place during your next North Myrtle Beach adventure.