State of the Beach/State Reports/NC/Beach Fill

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North Carolina Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access108
Water Quality67
Beach Erosion10-
Erosion Response-7
Beach Fill7-
Shoreline Structures5 8
Beach Ecology5-
Surfing Areas38
Website9-


Policies

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs, A National Overview (NOAA, March 2000) provides the following information:

"The state has policies regarding beach nourishment.

Policy Citation and Description

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7M.1100. General Policy Guidelines for the Coastal Area. Policy on Beneficial Use and Availability of Materials Resulting from the Excavation or Maintenance of Navigation Channels. Certain dredged material disposal practices may result in removal of material important to the sediment budget of ocean and inlet beaches. This may, particularly over time, adversely impact important natural beach functions especially during storm events and may increase long term erosion rates. Ongoing channel maintenance requirements throughout the coastal area also lead to the need to construct new or expanded disposal sites as existing sites fill up. This is a financially and environmentally costly undertaking. In addition, new sites for disposal are increasingly harder to find because or competition from development interests for suitable sites. Therefore, it is the policy of the State of N.C. that material resulting from the excavation or maintenance of navigation channels be used in a beneficial way wherever practical:

A) Clean, beach quality material dredged from navigation channels within the active nearshore, beach or inlet shoal systems must not be removed permanently from the active nearshore, beach or inlet shoal system unless no practical alternative exists. Preferably, this dredged material will be disposed of on the ocean beach or shallow active nearshore area where environmentally acceptable and compatible with other uses of the beach.
B) Research on the beneficial use of dredged material, particularly poorly sorted or fine grained materials, and on innovative ways to dispose of this material so that it is more readily accessible for beneficial use is encouraged.
C) Material in disposal sites not privately owned shall be available to anyone proposing a beneficial use not inconsistent with paragraph (a) of this Rule.
D) Restoration of estuarine waters and public trust areas adversely impacted by existing disposal sites or practices is in the public interest and shall be encouraged at every opportunity.


N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7M.0201-.0202. General Policy Guidelines for the Coastal Area. Shoreline Erosion Policies. The replenishment of sand on ocean beaches can provide storm protection and a viable alternative to allowing the ocean shoreline to migrate landward threatening to degrade public beaches and cause the loss of public facilities and private property. Experience in N.C. and other states has shown that beach restoration projects can present a feasible alternative to the loss or massive relocation of oceanfront development. In light of this experience, beach restoration and sand Nourishment and disposal projects may be allowed when:

A) Erosion threatens to degrade public beaches and to damage public and private properties.
B) Beach restoration, Nourishment or sand disposal projects are determined to be socially and economically feasible and cause no significant adverse environmental impacts.
C) The project is determined to be consistent with state policies for shoreline erosion response and state use standards for Ocean Hazards, Public Trust Waters, Areas of Environmental Concern and the relevant rules and guidelines of state and federal review agencies.


When these conditions can be met, the Coastal Resources Commission supports, within overall budgetary constraints, state financial participation in Beach Erosion Control and Hurricane Wave Protection projects that are cost-shared with the federal government and affected local governments pursuant to the federal Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and the N.C. Water Resources Development Program (G.S. 143-215.70-73).

Related Policies

Near Shore Sand Mining Regulations

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7H.0106, 7H.0208. Submerged lands mining rules for estuarine and public trust waters.

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7M.1201 - .1202. General Policy Guidelines for the Coastal Area. Ocean Mining Policies for federal and state waters (applicable for federal consistency).

Dredge and Fill Regulations

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7H.1500. Coastal Management. A General permit allows excavation within existing canals, channels, basins and ditches in estuarine and public trust waters for the purpose of maintaining previous water depths.

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7K.0401. Coastal Management. The USACE is exempt from permit requirements regarding maintenance of federal navigation channels. This includes dredging and disposal of dredged materials in AEC’s.

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7M.1100. General Policy Guidelines for the Coastal Area. It is the policy of the state that material resulting from the excavation or maintenance of navigation channels be used in a beneficial way wherever practical.

Sand Scraping/Dune Reshaping Regulations

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7H.1800. N.C. Coastal Management. A General permit allows beach bulldozing needed to reconstruct or repair frontal and/or primary dune systems.

Dune Creation/Restoration Regulations

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7M.0202. General Policy Guidelines for the Coastal Area. Dune creation is allowed as a temporary measure to counteract erosion, but only to the extent necessary to protect property for a short period of time until threatened structures may be relocated or until the effects of a short-term erosion event are reversed.

Public Access Regulations

N.C. Admin. Code tit. 15A, r. 7M.0201 -.0202. Shoreline Erosion Policies. The following are required with state involvement (funding or sponsorship) in beach restoration or sand nourishment projects: (a) the entire restored portion of the beach shall be in permanent public ownership; and (b) it shall be a local government responsibility to provide adequate parking, public access and services for public recreational use of the restored beach.

Beach Nourishment Funding Program

There is no program per se, but state does help finance USACE beach protection/nourishment projects. Funding assistance from the state is coordinated by the state Division of Water Resources.

Amount of State Funding

Totals (1995-98): Nourishment: $6,183,174, Feasibility Study - Dare Co.: $517,388 USACE Feasibility Study: $500,000 (Dare Co. contribution in cash and in-kind services).

Direct State Expenditures (1995-98):

1995
Nourishment(Carolina Beach): $871,174.
Feasibility Study (Dare Co.): $115,826.
1996
Feasibility Study (Dare Co.): $100,000.
1997
Nourishment (Kure Beach): $3,664,000.
Feasibility Study (Dare Co.): $200,013.
1998
Nourishment (Carolina Beach): $1,148,000.
Nourishment (Wrightsville Beach): $500,000.
Feasibility Study (Dare Co.): $517,388.



Federal funding for beach fill projects from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began to dry up around 2008. In response, there have been more efforts to fund these projects on a county/city basis as opposed to federal/state or state/county.

In addition to relocation, beach fill or beach nourishment is considered a preferred alternative to shoreline armoring. NCAC 7M .0202(b) sets state policy as “(b) Erosion response measures designed to minimize the loss of private and public resources to erosion should be economically, socially, and environmentally justified. Preferred response measures for shoreline erosion shall include but not be limited to AEC rules, land use planning and land classification, establishment of building setback lines, building relocation, subdivision regulations and management of vegetation. (c) The replenishment of sand on ocean beaches can provide storm protection and a viable alternative to allowing the ocean shoreline to migrate landward threatening to degrade public beaches and cause the loss of public facilities and private property."

According to the NCDCM, experience in North Carolina and other states has shown that beach fill projects can present a feasible alternative to the loss or massive relocation of oceanfront development. The general state policy for erosion response encourages relocation as the first option, followed by beach fill. Fill projects may be allowed when:

  1. Erosion threatens to degrade public beaches and to damage public and private properties;
  2. Beach restoration, fill or sand-disposal projects are determined to be socially and economically feasible and cause no significant adverse environmental impacts; and
  3. The project is determined to be consistent with state policies for shoreline erosion response, state use standards for areas of environmental concern, and the relevant rules and guidelines of state and federal review agencies.


When the above conditions are met, the CRC supports, within overall budgetary constraints, state financial participation in beach fill projects that are cost-shared with the federal government and the affected local governments, pursuant to the federal Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and the North Carolina Water Resources Development Program. The state Division of Water Resources administers this program. The following are required with state funding or sponsorship of beach restoration and sand fill projects:

  1. The entire restored portion of the beach will be in permanent public ownership and
  2. It shall be a local government responsibility to provide adequate parking, public access and services for public recreational use of the restored beach.


The CAMA Rules & Policies include the N.C. Dredge and Fill Law and Current Rules Governing Coastal Management.

The Dredge and Fill Law among other things, attempts to prohibit any dredge and fill project where "there will be significant adverse effect on wildlife or fresh water, estuarine or marine fisheries." Current state policy requires projects that dredge inlets and re-nourish beaches to be done in the winter, from Dec. 1 through March 31, to minimize the effects on sea turtles and birds. In September 2014 it was announced the state Division of Coastal Management would soon submit for public comment a series of proposals to change the way inlets are managed, including expanding the time “window” for dredging and beach re-nourishment into sea turtle and bird nesting seasons. The idea is part of an overall inlet management study by the division and its policy-making Coastal Resources Commission. Proponents say that widening that window would reduce costs, but a host of state and federal agencies are concerned and watching the process very carefully.

In October 2014 the state Division of Coastal Management issued a request for proposals to provide technical assistance in developing a North Carolina Regional Biological Assessment for sand placement projects on North Carolina beaches. The goal of the project is to achieve a more comprehensive and streamlined permitting process for beach nourishment projects while protecting threatened and endangered species along the coast. “This project will help us address recent federal actions to designate critical habitat area for threatened and endangered species, such as loggerhead sea turtles, and the implications of those actions on the permitting of beach and inlet management projects,” said Braxton Davis, director of the Division of Coastal Management. Read more.

In 2017 the state Senate and House were finalizing another set of environmental regulations, including one that loosens rules on sandbag walls and another that would allow using sand from Diamond Shoals for beach nourishment without testing it first. The House, which added a handful of new provisions to the Senate version, calls the package the Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-2017. Read more.

For additional information on beach fill and other measures that may be used to protect oceanfront property in North Carolina, check out the NCDCM Oceanfront Shorelines website.


A Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) Science Panel submitted recommendations for sediment criteria for beach fill projects in North Carolina to the CRC in January 2005. The CRC accepted the science panel recommendations on January 28, 2005 and endorsed a plan by Jeff Warren, Coastal Hazards Analyst with DCM to look at a database of sand samples from approximately five recent projects and delay any rulemaking for about six months to allow an assessment of how current and recent beach fill projects would have been affected under the proposed criteria. The Science Panel draft proposal took into consideration that not all beaches are alike and set up criteria meant for beach fill sand to mimic the natural beach. The science panel report recommended that sand used in beach fill not exceed the natural beach content of coarse material by more than 4% or the natural beach fine material content by more than 5%. Shell content should be no greater than 40% of the existing beach.

The draft rules were presented to the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission on November 17, 2005. These draft rules were approved for public hearing by the CRC on March 24, 2006. The public hearing for these rules was held at the CRC meeting June 22-23, 2006 in Greenville, N.C. The Technical Standards for Beach Fill Projects were adopted by N.C. Coastal Resources Commission in November 2006 based on recommendations from the Coastal Resource Commission’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards, data analysis and review by the Division of Coastal Management and input from numerous stakeholder groups. The rules finally took effect on February 1, 2007.

The rules were designed to prevent the repeat of instances in which incompatible materials were placed on beaches during renourishment projects. Further, the objective definition of “compatibility” makes it easier for DCM to evaluate potential projects as well as determine mitigation protocol for incompatible material. The existing CRC rule (15A NCAC 07H.0308(a)(3)) states: “Sand used for beach nourishment shall be compatible with existing grain size and type; sand to be used for beach nourishment shall be taken only from those areas where the resulting environmental impacts will be minimal.”

The rules contain specific language stating that the sand must be similar in size and composition to what is currently on the beach to be nourished. Along with sediment compatibility language, the rules also set a benchmark - including pre-project sampling requirements - for nourishment projects.

DCM believes that any increases in cost will be nominal because the proposal incorporates rules, such as additional core samples, that are already standard in the industry. Producing a better renourishment project should also save money in the long run.

You can obtain more information the sediment criteria rules history on NCDENR's website.


The state divisions of Coastal Management and Water Resources developed the state’s first comprehensive Beach and Inlet Management Plan (BIMP). The underlying goal of the BIMP was to assist stakeholders, the public and state, local and federal agencies in taking a more holistic, systematic approach to managing North Carolina’s beaches and inlets. Here is the final report from this effort.

A related, follow-on project is the Inlet Management Study. The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission held a series of public meetings in March and April 2014 to hear from local government officials, citizens, and stakeholders about specific concerns related to the management of ocean inlets in North Carolina. The meetings were held in Buxton, Beaufort, Ocean Isle Beach and Wilmington. These regional meetings are part of a new, comprehensive review of inlet management in the state by the CRC to more fully understand and respond to issues confronted by local governments and stakeholders in these dynamic areas. The commission is particularly interested in receiving input on inlet dredging issues, channel realignment projects, development standards for inlet areas, emergency measures such as beach bulldozing and sandbags, erosion rates in inlet areas, and terminal groins.

Carteret County filed a civil action in December 2007 against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop what the complaint calls “significant adverse impacts” to Bogue Banks by the Corps. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The case against the Corps and associated officials challenges the Corps’ management of the sand it dredges for routine navigation purposes annually from Beaufort Inlet, known as the outer harbor, as part of the Morehead City Harbor Navigation Project. The dredged beach-quality sand is taken out of the beach’s natural ecosystem when it is dumped onto offshore disposal sites, according to the complaint filed in Raleigh. The county is requesting an order permanently enjoining – or prohibiting – the Corps from dumping the sand offshore and wants the court to enjoin the Corps from dredging Beaufort Inlet until the Corps prepares documents, required by federal law, that fully evaluate the environmental impacts of the Morehead City Harbor Project. The Carteret County Beach Commission, has been arguing this issue with the Corps for more than 10 years, according to beach commission Chairman William “Buck” Fugate.

An interesting discussion of the legal rights of oceanfront property owners as they relate to beach fill projects, coastal erosion and public access can be found in the Winter/Spring 2005, Summer/Fall 2005 and Summer/Fall 2006 editions of Legal Tides, a publication from the new North Carolina Coastal Resources Law, Planning and Policy Center.

Inventory

The Wilmington District of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) maintains an inventory and listing of beach fill projects. Beach fill projects have been in place for almost 35 years at Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach. From 1965 to 1998, the Carolina Beach program cost $26.3 million, and the Wrightsville program cost $16.7 million. In the last 10 years, Wrightsville Beach has been filled twice and Carolina Beach has been filled three times. Another project was carried out at Kure Beach in 1998 (filled twice in the last 10 years), while a reconnaissance study, to determine if a fill project warrants federal interest, is underway for a project at Bogue Banks. Feasibility studies, which determine project benefits and costs, environmental impacts, and scope, are under way for new projects at beaches in Brunswick and Dare Counties.[1]

The first 50-year federal "Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction" project authorized by Congress was for Carolina Beach, NC, in 1965. This authorization allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to launch studies of the potential coastal erosion problem in this order:

  • A Reconnaissance Report, which documents existing conditions and possible solutions, and establishes whether there is a federal interest in the project. If the project passes this barrier, it moves to…
  • A Feasibility Study, to determine whether the proposed project is environmentally acceptable and economically justified. This results in a recommended plan, which then leads to…
  • An Appropriations Request, which requires Congressional approval of any federal funds being spent on the proposed project (which cannot exceed 65% of the project cost and rarely reach 50%, with state and local funds making up the balance).


The end date of that 50-year project is occurred in 2015. It's unclear what happens now. The responsibility for funding these projects may fall to the coastal counties and towns.

In July 2013 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that they were seeking public comment on the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (DOT) request that the Corps authorize emergency beach nourishment at the S-curves in northern Rodanthe. DOT is seeking the Army Corps authorization to put 1.7 million cubic yards of dredged sand on the beach at the S-curves and northern Rodanthe to widen the beach and protect Highway 12 from ocean overwash in storms. The sand would be placed along 2.13 miles of beach from 1.5 miles north of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge border into the Mirlo Beach community to just north of the Rodanthe pier. The public notice of the request says that the sand would come from either Wimble Shoals, just offshore of Rodanthe, or the Oregon Inlet area. The Corps says the beach nourishment is expected to provide three-year, short-term protection of the highway – until DOT bridges the hot-spot area. Two options are currently being considered – one is about a two-mile bridge to the west out into the sound and the other is an elevated bridge over the area.

An update on this project - and on longer-term measures to deal with erosion in the S-curves area that is impacting Highway 12 - was provided in the following article which appeared at newsobserver.com in July 2014:

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $20.3 million contract to build out the heavily eroded beach at the north end of Rodanthe, a village on Hatteras Island. The state Department of Transportation requested the two-mile beach nourishment project to provide a buffer for N.C. 12 the Outer Banks highway, frequently washed out by hurricanes and other ocean storms at Rodanthe. DOT engineers hope the beach project will buy enough time so the state can proceed with a construction project to elevate parts of the highway on a bridge. A contract for that work is expected to be awarded by the end of the year. The beach nourishment by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. LLC of Oak Brook, Ill., is expected to be finished be fore the end of September. DOT will pay for the work with federal funds earmarked for relief from Hurricane Sandy, which damaged the area in 2012.

The S-Curves stretch of the highway north of Rodanthe is narrowly shielded from high tide by giant sandbags and artificial dunes, which are continually being repaired and reshaped by big yellow bulldozers. DOT engineers have a longer-term fix in mind, a bridge that will lift more than 2 miles of N.C. 12 high above the surging ocean. They want to buy time – and provide a protective buffer for their three-year construction project – by building out a 100-yard-wide beach at Rodanthe. The new beach will last a few years, if all goes well, until ocean storms wash all that sand away. The beach may benefit private homeowners in the northern end of Rodanthe and a shrinking subdivision called Mirlo Beach, which has lost three rows of cottages to the Atlantic Ocean since the 1980s."

This article at Pilotonline.com from August 2014 provides a further update.

In January 2013 work began on three projects that will cost an estimated $26.3 million. The first is to remove about 1.8-million cubic yards of sand from the inner-ocean bar at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. That sand will then be placed on Bald Head Island's west and south beaches. The cost for that is pegged at $16.9 million. The contractors will then begin a beach fill project at Carolina Beach to take an estimated 680,000 cubic yards of sand from the Carolina Beach Inlet and pipe it over to the areas of the beach that are eroded the most. This project's price tag is about $4.6 million. About 65 percent of this cost will be covered with federal funds, and the rest is split between the state, the county and the town. This process occurs at Carolina Beach about every three years. The third project is the Kure Beach storm-damage reduction project, scheduled to begin work in early March 2013. It will also cost around $4.6 million and is covered by the same breakdown of funds as the Carolina Beach project. An estimated 432,000 cubic yards of sand for the Kure Beach fill will come from an offshore sand borrow site, requiring the contractors to use a hopper dredge. The work at Kure Beach must be completed by March 31, so as not to disturb nesting sea turtles. The other two projects, Bald Head Island and Carolina Beach, have until April 30 to complete their work.

In November 2010, Marinex Construction began a dredging and beach fill project utilizing a pipeline dredge to maintain the Outer Harbor of the Morehead City Harbor Navigation Project, and rather than traditionally dumping the dredged sand offshore, the material was pumped to the beaches of Ft. Macon and Atlantic Beach. The project was completed roughly 5 months later (April 2011) and included the excavation/placement of ~1,350,000 cubic yards, representing the first time ever Outer Harbor sand was delivered to the beaches of Bogue Banks at 100% federal cost. Previously, Ft. Macon and Atlantic Beach have been nourished by the federal government utilizing material pumped and temporarily stored in the upland disposal facility of Brandt Island. Poor sediment quality (black mud and clay balls) associated with the last Brandt Island pump-out in 2005 coupled with a legal complaint filed by Carteret County resulted in the development of a three year Interim Operation Plan in order to adequately maintain (dredge) the Morehead City Harbor. This recent nourishment effort at Ft. Macon/Atlantic Beach constituted the first of the three year Interim Operation Plan. More project details.

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., Inc. was awarded a $20.1 million contract on Nov. 23, 2009 for the beach nourishment for Kure Beach, Carolina Beach, and Ocean Isle Beach and maintenance dredging of Masonboro Inlet and Sand Bypassing, Brunswick County, N. C. Work was to be performed in Brunswick County, N.C., with an estimated completion date of Apr. 30, 2010. According to the Army Corp of Engineers, the Kure Beach portion was scheduled to be completed by March 25, 2010. The Carolina Beach portion of the project was scheduled to begin around March 30 and run through April 8. The Ocean Isle Beach project was slated to begin around April 11 and run through April 27, 2010.

The sand at Ocean Isle Beach was part of 510,000 cubic yards pumped from the Shallotte River Inlet to renourish about two miles of the town's seven-mile beach. The project extends westward from Shallotte Boulevard to Tarboro Street, near the center of the island. The current renourishment cost $5.1 million. The federal government will pay for $3.2 million of that and the remaining $1.9 million is split between the state and Ocean Isle Beach. The sand was spread over nearly two miles of beach to a height of six feet and a width of up to 250 feet.

In June 2009 the N.C. House Appropriations Committee, in its budget recommendation, cut $5 million that Bald Head Island was hoping to get for a sand replacement project. The committee took out all state funding for beach fill projects that did not have a federal match.

A article by Steve Jones in myrtlebeachonline.com in November 2008 stated that Holden Beach and Ocean Isle Beach were hoping to get federal assistance to replace sand lost during Tropical Storm Hanna in September 2008. Holden Beach lost about 300,000 cubic yards and Ocean Isle Beach lost about 100,000 cubic yards. It was expected that a contract would be awarded in late November 2008 to dredge parts of the Intercoastal Waterway to put about 85,000 cubic yards of sand on the east end of Holden Beach. The remaining 215,000 cubic yards would likely have to come from inland sources yet to be identified. Both projects were anticipated to begin in January 2009 and be completed by April 15.

In September 2010 the Wilmington District, Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division announced that they would be holding a public scoping meeting for Carteret County’s proposed implementation of a long-term sustainable beach fill management plan within jurisdictional waters of the United States. The County’s proposal is designed to improve protection for residential homes, infrastructure, and recreational beaches against future storms over a period of 30-plus years. The development of a Master Plan will involve reviewing all of the previous beach fill efforts and current plans and will formulate a multi-decadal, all inclusive beach fill plan for the entire 25-mile barrier island of Bogue Banks, including all local beach municipalities, in Carteret County. The Public Notice including specific plans and site information is available on the Wilmington District website. A very important aspect of this long-term beach fill project is locating sources of sand.

Bogue Banks communities participated in two beach nourishment projects during winter/spring 2007. One project was the Morehead City Harbor Section 933 Project, designed to nourish the shoreline of Pine Knoll Shores because of the sand lost in 2001. The second project was the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) post-Ophelia sand replenishment project to replace the sand that was lost during Hurricane Ophelia in Emerald Isle, Indian Beach and Pine Knoll Shores. The 933 project is a federal/non-federal cost-sharing program under which dredged shoal material from the Outer Harbor of the Morehead City Federal Navigation Project is permitted to be placed somewhere other than the offshore disposal sites. That site is the shoreline of Pine Knoll Shores. While Carteret County is the non-federal sponsor, Pine Knoll Shores has taken on all the local cooperation terms, including the non-federal cost share and rights of entry. The FEMA project reimbursed communities for the replacement of sand lost during Hurricane Ophelia, a federally declared disaster. Because the original project was not federally funded and the project sponsors developed and adhered to a beach maintenance and monitoring program, Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores and Indian Beach received 100 percent reimbursement for the sand that was lost. FEMA approved the replacement of 1,107,560 cubic yards of sand lost during Ophelia for the towns. Pine Knoll Shores received approximately 239,796 cubic yards of sand, Indian Beach 298,604 cubic yards and Emerald Isle 569,160 cubic yards. The window of dredging opportunity without getting in the way of the turtle-nesting season is from January to April 1. UPDATE - the project got underway in mid-January 2007. The total estimated project cost is $13,774,000 which equates to $54,667 per foot or $1,330,336 per mile of beach.

Also set to begin in mid to late January 2007 were beach fill projects in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. In Carolina Beach, the project was scheduled take place from just north of the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier down to Scotch Bonnet Lane. A estimated 530,000 cubic yards of sand was to be pumped from the Carolina Beach Inlet onto the beach. The Kure Beach project will cover the beach starting just south of the Davis Road public beach access to approximately Camp Wyatt Drive near the Ocean Dunes Condominium Complex 600 feet short of the Riggings condos. An estimated 263,000 cubic yards of sand will be pumped from an offshore site and brought to the shore to be pumped onto the beach.

Federal budget cuts combined with escalating costs have recently forced more state and local financial contribution to beach fill projects. Following are excerpts from an article by Gareth McGrath appearing in the Wilmington Star on December 3, 2005:

After months of uncertainty, Wrightsville Beach appears set to get its full beach nourishment project this [2005-2006] winter. But it's going to cost state and county taxpayers a lot more than first thought - and it could be a worrisome omen for future sand-boosting projects in the state. The project had run into trouble on two fronts. This fall, Congress failed to approve enough money to cover the federal government's 65 percent share of the project, which was originally forecast to cost about $2.2 million. The town's beach up to just beyond the Holiday Inn SunSpree is periodically nourished - along with neighboring Masonboro Island - under a long-term agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers. Rising fuel costs, a slew of shoaling problems tied to this year's Gulf Coast hurricanes and the country's shortage of dredge assets also has sent dredging costs skyrocketing. The result is that the Wrightsville Beach project is now estimated to cost $3.2 million - with officials fearing that price could continue to rise. But the federal share is still only $890,000, leaving a nearly $2.3 million financial hole. Although Wrightsville Beach could have gone forward with a scaled-down nourishment, town and corps officials have agreed to a deal that allows North Carolina and New Hanover County, which both contribute to the 35 percent non-federal share of the project, to pay more to cover the shortfall. New Hanover uses a portion of the county's room occupancy tax to fund beach nourishment projects. The fund had $22.3 million as of June 30. Local officials had hoped to wait a few weeks to see if additional funds for the nourishment could be added to a hurricane disaster supplemental bill now working its way through Congress. If the additional federal money does come through, the funds would be split between the state and local governments. While Thursday's deal guarantees that Wrightsville Beach's project will go forward early next year, officials admit it could set a dangerous precedent for future beach nourishment projects. The effective reversal of the cost-share agreement, with the state and local government picking up the bulk of the project's cost, doesn't bode well when the government - especially the White House - is trying to cut funding for waterway and beach projects.


Later in December 2005, the Wilmington-New Hanover County Ports, Waterways and Beach Commission voted to recommend that the New Hanover County commissioners provide about $1.16 million, or half, of the non-federal share of the Wrightsville 2006 beach fill project.

A further development regarding this project occurred later in December 2005 when the only bid came in several million dollars over the government estimate, causing the bid to be rejected and the project placed on hold, perhaps until late 2006. The New Hanover Board of Commissions did approve up to $1.2 million for this project in January 2006, but the prospects for the project proceeding in early 2006 were still uncertain. The project was scheduled to begin construction in March 2006.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a more that $20 million project in November 2009 to place about 450,000 cubic yards of sand on Wrightsville Beach and another 550,000 on Masonboro Island, all of which to be dredged from Masonboro Inlet and the Banks Channel area. The project was expected to begin near the end of the year and be completed on Masonboro Island by the end of March 2010 and on other beaches by the end of April 2010. In addition to Wrightsville and Masonboro; Carolina, Kure and Ocean Isle beaches will also get sand.

In addition to these Congressionally authorized ongoing beach fill projects, the Section 933 Authority allows sand being dredged from a federal navigation channel to be placed on beaches when needed to fight erosion. Bald Head Island has previously used Section 933, while a new project, using sand from the project to deepen Wilmington Harbor, has been approved and funded for Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach, and Bald Head Island. In December 2010 an article in The State Port Pilot Resolution sets stage for lawsuit against Corps discusses a potential lawsuit by the Village of Bald Head Island against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Town believes beach erosion has increased since 2000, after USACE realigned the Cape Fear River’s shipping channel entrance closer to the island. Oak Island also has received sand from a fill project to improve sea turtle habitat.[2]

A dredging/beach fill project was planned for spring/summer 2006, with Shallotte and Lockwood inlets in Brunswick County, New River Inlet in Onslow County and Bogue Inlet in Carteret County being dredged. The sand was to be placed at erosion hot spots such as the northern tip of North Topsail Beach and the east end of Ocean Isle Beach. Funding for the estimated $4.5 million project was being split evenly between the state and the federal government, which is a lower than normal federal contribution. Another unusual aspect of this project is the fact that it was scheduled to extend well into summer, when dredging is typically off limits to protect endangered species such as sea turtles and piping plovers.

Ocean Isle Beach spent about $600,000 to put about 135,000 cubic yards of sand on the east end of the island in 2006. In October 2007, a combination of high tides and strong south winds scoured away much of that sand, hastening condemnation orders for two oceanfront houses and raising concerns about the integrity of a sewer line.

North Carolina has three main fill projects that are ongoing (in conjunction with the USACE). The fill occurs approximately every 3 or 4 years. The cumulative length for these three projects is 8 to 9 miles of beach. If all proposed projects are constructed and maintained, 60 to 70 miles of the 320-mile coastline will be restored.[3]

Every 4 to 5 years, Atlantic Beach is nourished with dredge material from Beaufort Inlet. A fill project started in Wilmington in Spring 2000, using dredge spoil from the Lower Cape Fear channel (approximately 7 million cubic yards over approximately 8 miles of beach).[4]

A beach fill project at Atlantic Beach in Carteret County was conducted from November 2004 to January 2005. The project was then expected to move to Pine Knolls Beach. Atlantic Beach receives the sand for free because it is the closest and least expensive option for disposing of dredge material by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Pine Knolls Shores agreed to share in the cost of the Corps pumping sand to its beach. Early in this project the fill material was dark and had excessive fines and thus was not retained well on the beach, but the later stages of the project had golden hue, coarse grained sand.

A three-month dune construction project in Kitty Hawk was scheduled to begin in November 2005 to add 10 cubic yards of sand per linear foot of beach along over 16,000 feet of shoreline. The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved an increase in the amount of sand from 3 cubic yards per foot to 10 cubic yards per foot.

In October 2005 the Nags Head Board of Commissioners approved a proposal to prepare a final engineering design and permit documentation for a locally funded beach fill project along the southernmost 10 miles of beach in Nags Head. Anticipated construction costs were approximately $26.75 million for placement of 4.6 million cubic yards of sand dredged from the ocean bottom approximately 2-3 miles offshore of the project site. This amount of sand is estimated to be equivalent to the amount lost to erosion over ten years. The goal was to widen the beach by 50-125 feet. The earliest anticipated date for start of construction was April 2007. A public notice for this project was issued by USACE in August 2006.

The Nags Head beach fill project finally moved ahead in 2011 after town commissioners voted in March 2011 to conditionally accept a proposal of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company to pump 4.6 million cubic yards of sand onto the town's southern beaches, both north and south of the Outer Banks Pier, for about $30.2 million. In April 2011 the commission approved the town's request for the issuance of $18 million in special-obligation bonds that Nags Head will pay back with $10 million generated through a hike in Dare County's occupancy tax. Officials are considering a townwide tax increase to fund the difference, though that portion of the financing plan won't be final until Nags Head has finished its 2012 budgeting process. Dare County also has agreed to contribute $18 million in cash toward the project from the county's beach-nourishment fund, which is supported by the occupancy tax. The total cost of the project is between $36 million and $37 million with engineering and other expenses factored in.

Extensive beach fill projects were planned for summer 2017 to widen beaches from Duck to Kill Devil Hills in Dare County. The project will replenish sand along 1.7 miles of the Duck shoreline, 2,500 feet in Southern Shores, 3.6 miles in Kitty Hawk and 2.6 miles in Kill Devil Hills. Meanwhile on Hatteras Island, a beach nourishment project in Buxton will cover 2.9 miles and cost $25 million. The cost of Outer Banks beach nourishment will reach $121 million and cover about 23 miles over the last six years. Nags Head plans to widen its beach again in 2018 or 2019 along the same 10 miles as in 2011 at a cost of about $25 million. The shoreline will need 2.3 million cubic yards for the upcoming project. More. Dare County website and 2017 project brochure.

Between 1999 and 2009 Bogue Banks has had 10 million cubic yards of sand placed on the shoreline at a cost of $80 million in federal, state and local funding.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that the cost of pumping sand on only 14 miles of beach along the Outer Banks to be $1.6 billion over 50 years. If the Corps' projections are close to the truth, keeping sand on those beaches for 50 years would be the most costly dredge-and-fill project in the nation's history. The funding source(s) for this project are uncertain, given indications from the federal government that they will soon stop funding new artificial beaches.

Another good source in information on beach fill projects (and other beach-related information) in North Carolina is the Shore Protection website maintained by the Carteret County Shore Protection Office. The Beach Preservation Plan link provides an overview of all the beach restoration projects that are being undertaken within the County. Project specific details are also available via the many links within the "Beach Preservation Plan" site. Project updates for any projects currently under construction are also provided.

The Monitoring link will help you navigate through the biological and physical monitoring efforts that are being conducted in relation to these beach restoration projects. The general intent of the biological monitoring plan is to document the species that inhabit and/or use the borrow areas and project beaches, and determine how long it will take for biological populations to return to baseline conditions. Specifically, the approved plan is designed to:

  1. Quantify the changes in benthic (bottom dwelling) populations in the borrow areas.
  2. Quantify the changes in benthic populations along the beach.
  3. Compare impacted areas of the beach with unrestored areas.
  4. Obtain semi-quantitative data on fish populations and foraging habitats in the surf zone.
  5. Monitor the recovery and population of ghost crabs and turtle nests in the project area.
  6. Monitor the occurrence of seabeach amaranth (threatened plant species) in the project area.


The Beach Access link of the Shore Protection website has maps delineating the location of all public access and parking points along the beaches of Bogue Banks.

Information on the Cape Lookout Historic Structure Protection Project, including aerial and ground photographs from March 2006 is available at:
http://carteretcountync.gov/654/Cape-Lookout-Historic-Protection-2006

The project includes the placement of sand along 2,600 linear feet that have been subdivided into two areas. The northern fill area is approximately 1,000 linear feet long with an estimated fill width of 50 foot contoured at a grade of +3.5 feet relative to sea level, which is the existing beach elevation. The southern fill area is approximately 1,600 linear feet long with an estimated fill width of 100 foot also contoured at the +3.5 foot elevation. There is also a berm (or quasi-dune feature) for the southern fill area extending 1,250 linear foot, at a +7.5 foot elevation, with a top width of 15 foot. The break between the northern and southern fill areas is the pier that is commonly used for the ferry services and National Park sea-craft. The Project should be completed by the end of March 2006.

The Shore Protection website now has a separate section for the Post Irene Renourishment Project. Hurricane Irene impacted Carteret County in August 2011, and as a result, FEMA approved a reimbursement package to replace the 269,628 cubic yards (cy) of sand lost during the Irene storm event across the shorelines of Pine Knoll Shores and Emerald Isle – 112,555 cy and 157,073 cy, respectively.

An article in the Virginian-Pilot on April 12, 2003 reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had received $500,000 to begin construction on a massive, long-term beach replenishment project in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and South Nags Head. This project was authorized by Congress in 2000 with the passage of the Water Resources Development Act. The project was expected to begin in November 2004 and be completed in 2007. The estimated costs for this initial "berm construction" project are $72 million, to be followed by 50 years of beach re-fill occurring about once every three years, bringing the total project cost over that period to an estimated $1.6 billion in federal, state and local dollars. Much of the continued maintenance will be paid for with funds collected from a one-cent occupancy tax. As part of the project, Dare County will acquire beachfront property through donations and acquisitions under eminent domain.

Early in 2005 the Dare County Board of Commissioners passed an additional one-cent sales tax for the purpose of helping fund beach fill projects. The increase in sales tax, commonly referred to as the "sand tax," immediately drew public ire which prompted a petition drive to have the question of repealing the tax placed as a referendum on the November 2005 ballot. Sufficient signatures were gathered to place the referendum on the ballot. In a further development, the referendum vote was delayed until February 7, 2006 because of a Department of Revenue opinion that a tax can't be repealed until it's implemented. The vote in February 2006 was an overwhelming (79% to 21%) rejection of the sand tax. The tax began to be collected on January 1, 2006 and by law, it will remain in effect until June 30, 2006.

Following the vote, the Nag's Head Beach Nourishment Committee developed a beach nourishment finance plan which was presented to the Nags Head Board of Commissioners in mid-February 2006. The plan would raise $30 million by combining a one-cent occupancy tax currently collected and held by the Outer Banks Tourist Bureau (25%), money from all Nags Head taxpayers (25%), and money from increased property taxes from property owners who would specifically benefit from the project (50%). That plan was rejected by voters in 2007. In early 2008, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners voted to establish a privately-funded beach nourishment trust fund. The contemplated beach fill project in south Nags Head was estimated to cost $32 million in 2007, a quarter of which would be paid by the county.

In December 2010 an article appeared in The Outer Banks Voice regarding a proposal submitted by a group calling itself The Beach Nourishment Committee. According to the article, the group appears to be made up primarily of residents and property owners in South Nags Head, the area most severely affected by erosion. The group has proposed creating a Nags Head Shoreline Management Fund. Sources of money would consist of “donations, special assessments, and occupancy taxes.” The fund would be used for “shoreline maintenance, including sand groins and similar structures, and to repair infrastructure damage due to storms, including stairs, ramps, streets and signage.” A key component of the plan could have major implications for the town’s taxpayers. It calls for the town to dedicate its entire share of occupancy tax collections to shoreline management. Another article Nags Head races deadline on sand replenishment appeared in the Virginian-Pilot on January 2, 2011. From the article:

"Nags Head is considering new financing options for the project because the town failed to achieve its preferred plan: a special five-year tax to most beachfront property owners. Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Gray, often the board's lone dissenting voice on the subject, said his fellow commissioners are scrambling at the last minute to finance the $36 million project. Dare County has committed a huge chunk of tax revenue to the project. But the town is on the hook for the rest - about $10 million. To combat the erosion problem, officials want to dump 4.6 million cubic yards of sand on beaches south of Blackman Street. Doing so would advance the shoreline between 50 and 125 feet, depending on the location, and last for a decade, according to estimates. Commissioners voted 4-1 last week to pledge its share of the county's occupancy-tax revenue as collateral for a bond. That means, if the town defaults on the loan, the lender has the right to claim the tax money." Another article.


A major completed project was the relocation of Mason Inlet at Wrightsville Beach. The inlet was moved approximately 2,800 feet north of its present location to protect the Shell Island Resort and other nearby properties. Dredging excavated approximately 820,000 cubic yards of sand from Mason Creek and the new inlet channel. The existing inlet was filled with approximately 270,000 cubic yards of sand and dunes were rebuilt between adjoining islands. Approximately 500,000 cubic yards of dredged sand were used for beach fill. The new inlet was opened on March 7, 2002 and the old inlet was closed on March 14, 2002.[5] A technical paper discussing this project can be found here.

North Carolina's substantial experience with beach fill has not been without controversy or missteps. Some recent examples that were noted in an article in the Summer 2003 edition of Coast Alliance's Coast to Coast newsletter include:

  • During the spring of 2001 the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) nourished Oak Island, NC for the sole purpose of restoring sea turtle nesting habitat. The sediment used for this project was Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway dredge spoil that had been stockpiled behind the island for decades. Shortly after pumping began, fist-sized cobbles started to appear on the beach and it quickly became apparent that the sediment source contained an abundance of rock, a fact the Corps' pre-project sampling efforts failed to detect. Neither the Corps nor the NC Division of Coastal Management (DCM) took action to stop the project and today this beach remains littered with rocks; a hazard to nesting turtles and humans alike. The lesson here is that a clear mechanism for stopping a bad project must be in place prior to project construction. An aftermath of this project was that the local Oak Island Preservation Society has taken it upon themselves to conduct thrice-yearly events to use "people power" to remove rocks from the beach. So far, the volunteer group has removed over 100 tons of rocks from the beach. The town owns a $50,000 "rock-picking" machine, but it can only operate between the dune line and the high tide line. The volunteers work at low tide and cover the area between the high- and low-tide lines. The rocks were still present in 2013.
  • Another costly event also took place in the spring of 2001 when the Corps mined — and almost completely removed - the ebb tidal delta of Shallotte Inlet in order to obtain cheap sand to nourish Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Although beach fill sand is obtained from ebb tidal deltas in other parts of the country, most is taken from inlets that have been jettied, thereby reducing the additional impacts of mining. Shallotte Inlet is unstabilized, however, and the delta will reconstitute itself, assuring accelerated erosion problems on both islands adjacent to the inlet. Interestingly, the project was widely referred to as "navigation channel realignment" which allowed the Corps to effectively camouflage its true intent. The lesson here is that ebb tidal deltas should not be mined.
  • Just up the NC coast the town of Pine Knoll Shores on Bogue Banks completed a local beach fill project in 2002 that was funded by a low-interest USDA loan - money that was intended to help rural communities flooded by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. But Floyd did not impact this community, and the sediment placed on the beach consisted primarily of dark gravel, mud, highly fragmental shell and even dozens of old tires! The lessons here are: 1) locally-funded projects are not always locally funded and 2) strict state sediment compatibility criteria and standards must be created and enforced.
  • Just to the west in Emerald Isle, also on Bogue Banks, a recently completed, town-funded beach fill project resulted in a beach as bad as the one constructed in Pine Knoll Shores. This is no surprise, since both towns used the same sediment source and since both projects were primarily motivated not by environmental concerns, but by the interests of oceanfront property owners. The poor quality of the nourished beaches along Bogue Banks may be due to the fact that both projects were handled by a private engineering consultant and by cost limitations, which dictated that the sediment be taken from a location less than a mile offshore. The extremely coarse nature of these bad beaches means they will likely persist long into the future, and the lesson here is that the long-term preservation of natural coastal resources must take precedent over the short-term economic needs of property owners and local coastal communities.
  • An additional beach fill disaster occurred at Holden Beach, where granite gravel, tree limbs, chunks of asphalt and construction debris were dumped along 3,000 feet of beach that received 150,000 cubic yards of what was supposed to be "construction sand." In this case the town paid for its own beach fill project and there was apparently a complete lack of oversight. A beach fill project completed in March 2017 was more successful.
  • At North Topsail Beach, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission notified the Army Corps of Engineers in early February 2016 that rocky material on areas of the southern end of the town’s beachfront was unsuitable for turtle nesting. Those agencies, the N.C. Department of Coastal Management and the town are in discussions about how deep a contractor must dig to remove rocks inadvertently pumped onto the shore in Summer 2015 during a beach fill project.



Beach fill projects may also have more subtle, but long-lasting negative effects. A study by Lisa Manning, Charles Peterson, and Stephen Fegley, of beach fill projects conducted from 2001 to 2004 on Bogue Banks, North Carolina concluded "The work reported here and studies by others have shown that beach nourishment as now practiced degrades the important swash-zone feeding habitat for both probing shorebirds (Quammen 1982; VanDusen et al., UNC, Inst of Marine Sciences, unpubl data) and demersal surf fishes (our study)."[6]

Today, five unstabilized North Carolina inlets are being considered as possible sediment sources for future beach fill projects, a state panel of scientists charged with developing sediment compatibility standards has shown no progress for over a year and there still is no mechanism for stopping bad beach fill projects. And now, to add insult to injury, the Corps' Wilmington District is allowing desperate coastal communities to circumvent existing federal and state public beach access rules so they can maximize their cost-share ratios for future federal fill projects.[7]

Dare County Planning Director Ray Sturza reported to commissioners attending a beach nourishment workshop in September 2004 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could not manage a locally-funded beach fill project for Dare County. Although the county is waiting on a $22 million appropriation from Congress to fund an effort to add sand to the shoreline from Nags Head to Kitty Hawk, Dare County Beach Nourishment Committee member Bill Pitt commented during the workshop that "It's becoming obvious that we're not going to see this [federal] funding anytime soon." The construction phase of the project is expected to cost approximately $72 million. The project's maintenance cycle is expected to cost $12.5 million annually for 50 years. The county is considering other local funding options, including a 1% sales tax increase.

The federal budget submitted to Congress in early 2005 included no money for dredging five shallow draft inlets at Lockwoods Folly, New Topsail, New River, Bogue and Carolina Beach. Also not included were funds for feasibility studies for beach fill in Surf City/North Topsail Beach and Bogue Banks.

In March 2005 it was announced in a press release from the office of Congressman Walter B. Jones that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had released $880,000 in emergency funding. The supplemental money consists of $300,000 for two rounds of maintenance dredging in the channel connecting Bogue Inlet's relocated main channel to the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway, $210,000 for a single round of dredging at New River Inlet and $370,000 for Carolina Beach Inlet.

Residents in North Topsail Beach expressed sticker shock and some wondered whether beach fill projects were worth it at a public forum in September 2005. Costs were estimated to be $25 million to fill 10.5 miles of beach in July 2004, but at the forum it was estimated that the project could cost $40 million, plus up to $15 million in interest. A separate project that would cover the southern portion of North Topsail and the northern portion of Surf City was estimated to cost $9 million.

A "dune-pushing" dune restoration project was set to be conducted in November and December 2005 along a six-mile stretch of beach in Surf City on Topsail Island. The project is being funded by $500,000 from FEMA and $200,000 from Surf City. The project also includes replanting beach vegetation. Councilman Michael Curley said that the Beach Nourishment Committee is devising a long-term plan to address the next 50 years. The conceptual project would include a 25-foot wide dune that is 15 feet above sea level along Surf City's coast, requiring 35 million cubic yards of sand.

Considerable controversy has arisen in North Topsail Beach regarding how to locally finance a new beach fill project. Tentatively, oceanfront homeowners may pay up to 90 percent of the proposed $35 million project, with non-oceanfront homeowners paying much less. As could be expected, many oceanfront homeowners are pushing for all Topsail Beach homeowners to be taxed at the same rate. In December 2010 an article Property owners say no go to beach nourishment revealed mixed support for a beach fill project.

"More than 1,300 surveys, mailed to property owners in the first phase, asked if they were willing to pay a set price over four years for the construction of that phase of the beach nourishment project, estimated at $10 million. Oceanfront property owners, responsible for 80 percent of the expense, narrowly approved the proposal. Non-oceanfront property owners, responsible for 20 percent, turned it down, Tuman said. Overall 46 percent approved the expense, 51 percent did not and 3 percent did not respond to the question."


In January 2012 an article in Carolina Coast Online stated that the board of aldermen had decided to move forward on a beach nourishment project that had been nixed by the previous board. The scope of the project, project phasing and funding were still up in the air.

At North Topsail Beach, the owners of the Topsail Reef condo complex spent about $1,000,000 in April 2012 to install a wall of sandbags in front of the ocean front buildings. This is intended to provide protection until a river inlet channel relocation project, scheduled to start in November 2012, can generate 544,000 cubic yards of sand, which is supposed to go 1.7 miles, which will go past the Topsail Reef area. But conditions subsequently worsened at North Topsail Beach, with severe erosion occurring in the area north of the Topsail Reef condominium complex. So, in August 2014 the North Topsail Beach Board of Aldermen took action to begin the permitting process to install a sand bag revetment, also known as a geotube, along approximately 1,500 feet of shoreline on the north end of Topsail Island. More on this.

In January 2007, Topsail Beach officials were pushing ahead with a $10 million emergency nourishment project (in November 2009 the estimate had ballooned to over $15 million) that would be funded with local and state funds. The town plans to pump an estimated 1 million cubic yards of sand onto nearly 22,000 feet of beach, basically covering all of the town's developed oceanfront. The work would be funded through a special assessment on town property owners, with oceanfront homeowners paying the most, and money drawn from the town's nourishment fund. Up to $3 million also would come from the state. The sand source for the nourishment would be an offshore borrow site. The roughly two square miles of seabed is being surveyed to make sure no hard bottom or other important habitat would be disturbed during the dredging. That issue has become a major stumbling block with North Topsail Beach's large nourishment project proposed for further up Topsail Island. The mined sand also would have to meet the state's new sediment-criteria rules, which are supposed to help guarantee that what's pumped onto a beach matches in color and size what's already there. Another issue that has been raised is whether the nourishment would allow development on oceanfront lots that are not suitable for building due to their proximity to the ocean. In November 2009 new members of the town's board of commissioners raised additional concerns about the project, tentatively scheduled to start in November 2010. Some commissioners have advocated waiting for a decision in the pending case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Walton County v. Stop the Beach Nourishment Inc before proceeding with eminent domain where property owners won't grant easements for the beach fill work. In December 2010 an article Topsail Beach has all funding, plus some, for shoreline project stated:

"The beach nourishment project for Topsail Beach is slated to begin before Christmas and it won’t be breaking the bank. The town has full funding in place for the project so there won’t be any need to raise taxes. [...] The beach project, which is sometimes called the interim or emergency plan because it is taking place before the federal beach nourishment project begins, will cost the town an estimated $7,881,200."


This project began on January 4, 2010 and was slated to be completed by March 25, 2010.

In December 2009 the North Topsail Beach Shoreline Protection Project Final Environmental Impact Statement was released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The following information was in the Federal Register Notice regarding the project:

"[The project will] nourish approximately 11.1 miles of beachfront to protect residential homes and town infrastructures, to reposition the New River Inlet channel, and to implement an inlet management plan to control the positioning of the new inlet channel, and to conduct periodic renourishment events. The new channel will be centrally located and the proposal will be to maintain that position, which essentially will be located perpendicular to the adjacent shorelines of North Topsail Beach and Onslow Beach. The proposed source of the material for the nourishment will be dredged from an offshore borrow area and from the repositioning of the inlet. The projected amount of material needed to nourish the oceanfront shoreline is approximately 3.21 million cubic yards. The placement of beach fill along the Town's shoreline would result in the initial widening of the beach by 50 to 100 feet. The widened beach would be maintained through a program of periodic beach nourishment events with the material extracted from the New River Inlet; and if necessary, supplemental materials from the offshore borrow area. All work will be accomplished using a hydraulic dredge. The proposed project construction will be conducted in a five phase approach to correspond with the Town's anticipated annual generation of funds.


The ocean shoreline of the Town of North Topsail Beach encompasses approximately 11.1 miles along the northern end of Topsail Island. Of the 11.1 miles, approximately 7.25-miles of the shoreline in the project area, with the exception of two small areas, is located within the Coastal Barrier Resource System (CBRS), which prohibits the expenditure of Federal funds that would encourage development. (The town has hired Coastal Planning and Engineering to develop a private shoreline protection plan to nourish those sections).

The channel through New River Inlet has been maintained by the COE for commercial and recreational boating interest for over 55 years. The COE is authorized to maintain the channel in the inlet to a depth of 6 feet mean low water (mlw) over a width of 90 feet."


In November 2009 it was announced that approximately 185,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from an area known as The Crossing (the intersection of the New River Inlet and the Intercoastal Waterway) would be placed along 3,000 yards of beachfront from around the New River Inlet to near the St. Regis Resort. The project is scheduled to start in January 2010 and be finished by March.

In December 2012 it was announced that the New River Inlet Channel Realignment Project had begun on the north end of North Topsail Beach. The project will widen and deepen the New River Inlet Channel and place the dredged sand on the northern 1.7 miles of the beach. The beaches will increase in width an average of 180 feet throughout the project area.

Costs of other beach fill projects in North Carolina were also expected to rise, perhaps substantially, because of the competing demand for dredge equipment following the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

The locations of fill projects for the years 1942 to 1992 are shown on the NCDCM Shoreline Change Rates maps noted above.

North Carolina does not currently have a long-term beach fill plan, but one is being developed.[8]

The state budget for fill projects in the early 2000s was as follows:[9]

2000 $354,000

2001 $10,817,000
2002 $3,299,000

2003 $968,000


In 2005, coastal communities in North Carolina began to team up to conduct an economic-effects study in light of a Bush administration proposal to end nearly all funding for the state's water resource projects. New Hanover County, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Holden Beach and Brunswick County contributed between $5,000 and $20,000 each. The goal of the study is to illustrate the importance of North Carolina's waterways and beaches to the local economies. In July 2011 a 3-part series began in Lumina News regarding funding options for beach fill projects at Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach in New Hanover County. The articles also discuss the history of beach fill projects and stress the economic importance of the beaches. In December 2011 County commissioners voted to enter into an interlocal agreement with Kure Beach, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach to fund future beach nourishment projects in the absence of state or federal funding. The agreement was an option included in the Beach Nourishment Contingency Plan, which was presented to commissioners on May 16, 2011. Traditionally, the federal government and New Hanover County have contributed 82.5 percent of the funding for the beach projects. The additional 17.5 percent was contributed by the state. Under the new agreement, the county would contribute 82.5 percent of project funding through the room occupancy tax in the absence of federal funding. The room occupancy tax will pay any federal funding shortfall up to 82.5 percent of the total project cost. If state funding is lacking, then the towns with projects in process will contribute a maximum of 17.5 percent of the remaining project cost.

Here are the dredging and beach fill projects that were funded (or not) in Carteret County in the FY 2006 Energy & Water Development Appropriation Bill:

  • Bogue Banks Shore Protection Project Feasibility Study ($75,000) – These funds will be utilized to complete a study that was initiated in 2001 and totals ~$3.2 million total (Federal and non-Federal) that will result in a 50-year beach nourishment program for Bogue Banks (http://carteretcountync.gov/313/Preservation-Plan). There is a non-Federal match associated with this appropriation.
  • Morehead City Harbor Section 933 Beneficial Use of Dredged Materials Project ($3,000,000) – These funds can be utilized by the Corps in a Federal/non-Federal cost sharing program to cover the incremental costs of placing sand dredged from the ocean bar of the Morehead City Harbor along the shoreline of Pine Knoll Shores in winter 2006 (~1,000,000 cubic yards). Construction of this project is contingent upon the execution of legal instruments and securing favorable dredging bids.
  • Morehead City Harbor Navigation Project Ocean Bar ($3,218,000) – These funds constitute the least cost disposal option for the Corps at the Harbor, which includes hopper dredge excavation and offshore dump. Again, the incremental cost to place dredged, shoal material along the beach is essentially the Section 933 Project. There is no non-Federal match associated with is appropriation.
  • Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in N.C. ($1,389,000) – This appropriation is well below the need for the entire waterway (~$11 million) and these funds will likely be used to fund a particular reach within the waterway complex.
  • Bogue Inlet, Barden Inlet, and Pamlico Sound to Beaufort Harbor (includes Atlantic Harbor and Wainwright Slough) ($0)


It should be noted that this list combines beach fill projects and navigation projects in which the dredged material was beach compatible and was placed on an adjacent beach as a least cost means of disposal. Such disposal is now required by state law and regulation. Beach disposal usually does not place enough sand on the beach to maintain the existing beach profile as would a long-term beach fill project.

Another source of information on beach fill and shore protection in North Carolina is the North Carolina Beach, Inlet & Waterway Association Website.

In August 2014 BOEM announced that scientists from Eastern Carolina University (ECU) and the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI) will work with the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management and Geodynamics LLC to evaluate and consolidate existing geological and geophysical data offshore North Carolina. These data will be used to identify and locate potential areas of sand resources, as well as benthic habitat, with the overall goal of having available geologic and benthic habitat resources data accessible for planners and managers. ECU, UNC CSI and its partners will reanalyze existing data in northeastern North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras) to develop a revised evaluation of sand resources with the newest available information. Areas for future resource surveys will also be identified.


Information on beach fill in North Carolina is also available through Western Carolina University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. State-by-state information is available from the pull-down menu or by clicking on a state on the map on this page.

In 2017 the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced a new online National Beach Nourishment Database – featuring data on projects comprised of nearly 1.5 billion cubic yards of sand placed in nearly 400 projects covering the continental U.S. coastline. In addition to the total volume and the number of projects, the database includes the number of nourishment events, the oldest project, the newest project, the known total cost, the total volume and the known length. The information is broken into both state statistics and those of local or regional projects. Every coastal continental state is included (so Alaska and Hawaii are still being compiled), and projects along the Great Lakes are similarly waiting to be added.

A report National Assessment of Beach Nourishment Requirements Associated with Accelerated Sea Level Rise (Leatherman, 1989) on EPA's Climate Change Impacts and Adapting to Climate Change websites notes that the cumulative cost of sand replenishment to protect North Carolina's coast from a 50 to 200 cm rise in sea level by 2100 is estimated at $656 million to $2.140 billion. Many current projections and cost estimates are based on a 1 meter (1,000 cm) sea level rise..

The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.

State, Territory, and Commonwealth Beach Nourishment Programs: A National Overview (2000) is a report NOAA/OCRM that provides an overview of the problem of beach erosion, various means of addressing this problem, and discusses issues regarding the use of beach nourishment. Section 2 of the report provides an overview of state, territorial, and commonwealth coastal management policies regarding beach nourishment and attendant funding programs. Appendix B provides individual summaries of 33 beach nourishment programs and policies.


Contacts

Matt Slagel
Shoreline Management Specialist
NC Division of Coastal Management
400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City, NC 28557
(252) 808-2808 Extension 233
Matthew.Slagel@ncdenr.gov

John Sutherland
Division of Water Resources
Phone: (919) 715-5446
Email: john.sutherland@ncmail.net

Wilmington District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Phone: (910) 251-4501

Footnotes

  1. John Sutherland, personal communication. July 13, 2000.
  2. John Sutherland, personal communication. July 13, 2000.
  3. "A Solution to Inlet Migration at Wrightsville Beach, NC." ATM Journal, Spring 2000.
  4. John Sutherland, personal communication. June 23, 1999.
  5. "A Solution to Inlet Migration at Wrightsville Beach, NC." ATM Journal, Spring 2000.
  6. Manning, Lisa M.; Peterson, Charles H.; Fegley, Stephen R. "Degradation of Surf-Fish Foraging Habitat Driven by Persistent Sedimentological Modifications Caused by Beach Nourishment." Bulletin of Marine Science, Volume 89, Number 1, January 2013, pp. 83-106(24)
  7. The Long Saga of Beach Refill Along NC's Coast" by Andrew Coburn and Orrin Pilkey. Coast to Coast. Summer 2003. Coast Alliance.
  8. John Sutherland, NC Division of Water Resources. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response, January 2003.
  9. John Sutherland, NC Division of Water Resources. Surfrider State of the Beach survey response, January 2003.



State of the Beach Report: North Carolina
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