Large rocks on shore near Fort Sumter
(Photo credit: jpellgen / Flickr)

The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, off the coast of South Carolina.

“It is one of the defining moments in our nation’s past,” says Dawn Davis of the National Park Service.

She says that during the war, the fort was heavily bombarded. But now, its walls are threatened by a different force.

As seas rise and storms grow more extreme, waves crash against some the fort’s walls, eroding them. In other areas, large rocks – originally installed to protect the fort from the sea – now grind against the brick and mortar, creating a scouring effect.

“It is resulting in possibly some failing walls,” Davis says.

So the National Park Service plans to create a buffer that will help protect the fort from waves and flooding.

The plan is to move the rocks that edge the fort about 60 feet into the harbor to create a breakwater that blocks waves. The Park Service will backfill the space with sand and plant marsh grass to create a wetland that can absorb and hold excess water.

Davis says preserving historic sites like Fort Sumter is important so people can continue to visit and learn about the past.

“These structures, these places, are the iconic reminders of where we’ve been,” she says.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Samantha Harrington, director of audience experience for Yale Climate Connections, is a journalist and graphic designer with a background in digital media and entrepreneurship. Sam is especially interested...