Many shoreline protection offices serve various county NC beach towns and are largely responsible for a broad range of services to local cities and towns in the eastern region of this state.
Areas served include Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender, Onslow, Hyde, Dare, Currituck, and Carteret County. Notable areas within counties include Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Cape Hatteras, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Wilmington, Topsail Island, Bogue Banks, the Pamlico Sound, and various rivers and sounds within Eastern NC including the Cape Fear, Pamlico, Chowan, and Neuse River.
While these offices have broad range responsibilities, in this article we’ll focus on beach nourishment, dredging, sand dunes, and planting new vegetation within coastal habitats and ecosystems.
In many cases, shoreline protection (often called shoreline stabilization) is a function of government which works in tandem with many agencies, organizations, and conservation and environmental groups to ensure local area beaches and waterways are clean, healthy, and supporting tourism, residents, marine mammals, fisheries, and wildlife.
Additionally, managers work with local government officials such as mayors, commissioners, and town councils to help coordinate during emergency events like hurricanes, tropical storms, and nor’easters which have tremendous impacts on sand, vegetation, shoaling, and boating channels within waterways.
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Shoreline Protection Via Nourishment, Dredging, Dunes, And Vegetation
Managers within shore protection office locations within coastal counties are largely responsible for working with area organizations and agencies mitigating and responding to climate change, global warming, rising oceans, and warming of oceans.
Beach Nourishment: The process of nourishment is one in which new sand is replenished after being lost by storm surge, wind, rising water, or other events. Typically, this is a major and immediate problem after a hurricane or tropical storm, but it’s also one that usually happens every few years as city, town, and county officials work to keep the beaches attractive for vacationers and tourist.
Healthy sand also protects the environment and many animals and mammals which inhabit coastal areas like shorebirds, sea turtles, and otters.
Here in Carteret County, nourishment is an ongoing process.
Dredging: The process of dredging is an important part of keeping boating channels free and clear for safe travel, and is also important in shoaling. Sand cleared to create channels can also be used for nourishment and living shorelines. How is dredging being used in places like Dare and Currituck County?
Sand Dunes: The sand dunes of Eastern NC, Outer Banks, the Crystal Coast, and Cape Fear region are sprawling wonders that really make our sandy areas what they are. In many cases, the natural and nourished sand dunes of our area make our beaches very remote, protected, and add to the natural beauty of the region.
How are municipal leaders in Brunswick and New Hanover County maintaining healthy sand dunes and keeping them in place instead of replacing them with commercial development?
Vegetation: The planting of new vegetation in beach areas and dunes are just as important as placing new sand in efforts to not only create aesthetic beauty for vacationers and tourism, but to also create natural habits for wildlife and aids in natural methods against land erosion. What are some ways planting natural vegetation and marsh grass along waterways and sandy areas in Hyde County and Ocracoke Island are helping to decrease flood risks and erosion?
October 2021: After 20 years as manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office which covers Bogue Banks, Emerald Isle, Salter Path, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, and the many barrier islands of the Crystal Coast, Greg Rudolph announced his retirement in 2021. Rudolph served as the manager since the county created the position. Greg was also instrumental is implementing an occupancy tax to help offset costs relating to paying for clean water and healthy sandy areas along many of the Carteret waterways and barrier islands. This occupancy tax today is largely a success.
Emerald Isle officials announced a $250,000 project to plant 300,000 pieces of vegetation to help stabilize sand dunes after recent nourishment projects.
Various towns in eastern Carteret are undertaking dredging operations to clear boat channels. These towns are especially dependent on dealing with shoaling and sandbars showing up in places where boaters are expecting clear channels for travel along Core Sound, Back Sound, and other places along Core Banks when doing commercial fishing and recreational fishing.
Officials in Pender County are excited about and implementing grants and looking at federal and state money to replace existing seawalls, bulkheads, and concrete structures with natural materials to build living shorelines on Topsail Island. These natural methods are an important part in responding to climate change and rising oceans which help deter land erosion.
What are some ways NC shoreline protection officials are working to implement new ways to address the growing need for protecting the environment, responding to weather events and storms, promoting healthy tourism, and protecting natural resources?