For the 12th consecutive year, the S.C. Army National Guard has partnered with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to donate surplus materials to the Marine Artificial Reef program, a collaborative project known as Reef-Ex.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) successfully deployed 24 armored personnel carriers to the Georgetown and Georgetown near-shore artificial reef sites on Sept. 30. The S.C. Army National Guard cleaned and prepared the armored personnel carriers in Columbia, the 1052 Transportation Company out of Kingstree delivered them to the Charleston Naval Base, and then transferred the vehicles by barge to the reef sites off the coast of Georgetown.

For artificial reef locations or for more information on the DNR's Artificial Reef Program, visit saltwaterfishing.sc.gov/artificialreef.html, or contact DNR Artificial Reef Coordinator Bob Martore in Charleston at (843) 953-9303 or via e-mail at MartoreB@dnr.sc.gov.

The DNR Reef-Ex Program places yellow buoys on the artificial reef sites to assist boaters in locating the reefs. Lists of the reef sites, structures and Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, as well as information on using artificial reefs are available to those who are interested in fishing or diving on the sites at: www.dnr.sc.gov/reefguide/artreefgraphic.

See DNR video of the Reef-Ex Program at: www.dnr.sc.gov/video/march_video/marchvideo_cone2.html.

The partnership has grown since its origination in 1997, and to date uses demilitarized equipment from the S.C. Army National Guard, such as armored personnel carriers, concrete culvert, shipping containers and combat engineering vehicles, to build onto existing artificial reefs. The donated materials, once stripped and cleaned, are deployed onto many of the DNR maintained reef sites. Since the project began, one-third of all artificial reef offshore deployments have been directly associated with the Reef-Ex material provided by the S.C. Army National Guard. Last year's Reef-Ex project deployed more than 60 demilitarized armored personnel carriers and 2,000 pieces of concrete culvert pipe to the Fripp Island, Hunting Island and Pawley's Island reef sites.

There are currently 45 artificial reef sites in South Carolina's coastal and offshore waters spanning from Little River to Hilton Head. Although the majority of these reefs are 3 to 10 miles offshore and can only be reached by boat, some reefs are located in estuarine waters or adjacent to established fishing piers. The materials, once deployed to the reef site, allow for the flourishing of hard-bottom communities, which lead to an increase in marine productivity. Recreational fishing and diving opportunities are also enhanced as a result of artificial reef development.

To find out more about S.C. artificial reef projects and DNR, visit theDNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov.