"Beach News" is a courtesy service provided by the Carteret County Shore Protection Office that furnishes on-line news relevant to the beaches of North Carolina with special emphasis to Carteret County. Please e-mail rudi@carteretcountygov.org if you wish to be removed from or added to the "Beach News" e-mail distribution list. Recent "Beach News" is provided below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Corps, beach panel resolve dispute

Insurance rates going up at the beach

Insurance to cost N.C. homeowners 4% more

Insurance rate to increase by 17 to 30 percent for area homeowners

Beach homeowners likely to see insurance rates spike

Insurance rates to soar

Rate hike less than expected

What you can and cannot find out about harassment of negotiated rulemaking committee


Beach nourishment again in the limelight

Beach homeowners worried about rising insurance costs

Rate scare affects all

Insurance fairness

Dear Gov.-elect Perdue: The coast is calling

Feds should pitch in for beach support


Kure Beach Takes Steps To Protect Beach Nourishment Easement

Fixing beach helps everyone, consultant tells Nags Head group

Beach access group and Dare and Hyde counties plan to sue over piping plover habitat designation

Coastal insurance is underfunded

Where warming fits


Battered Ocean Isle Beach expects some aid

Ocean Isle contributes money for lobbyist to help pass bill allowing terminal groins

New N.C. group aims to speed coastal permitting

NTB closer to tearing down condemned homes

Editorial: Oregon Inlet is one pathway to economic improvement

Commentary: Park’s administrative history makes a case for Congressional action on access

Beaches yes, students no!


City poised to sue owners over public beach access

North Topsail moves forward with demolition of condemned homes

Long-term beach plan in the making



Objections keep static line in place, for now

N.C. developing coastal strategy

Project to shore up battered Ocean Isle Beach

Crew at home on the sea

Flipper to flipper, sea turtle hospital is packed this week


Weather cited in dozens of N.C. sea turtle strandings

Cold weather leads to 2 dozen sea turtle rescues (AP)


N.C. coast's changing face

Dune repairs to end soon

Sea turtles feeling effects of cold weather

Group finishing shoreline study

Editorial: Don't let beach rules be sandbagged


Coastal Resources Commission rules stall until legislature meets

DHEC's beach regulations built on sand

DHEC critics seek major changes

Beach bingo


Without signatures, CRC can't force sandbag removal

Cold snap is taking a toll on sea turtles

Conference highlights beach nourishment, coastal issues


Dredgers give Strand a fresh coat of sand

You’re just one obstacle to a sea turtle’s survival

Feds move on Virginia oil drilling

Right whales make splash

Right whales get right-of-way

Ruling favors Navy range

Sound decision


Holden Beach seeks speedy sand repairs

Holden Beach to get help to replenish shore

Cape Hatteras driving plan reaches crossroads

Negotiators and the public get a look at Park Service alternatives for ORV management

Dredging likely to expand

Justices side with Navy in case of whales vs. sonar

Feds' actions advances offshore drilling in Virginia

Offshore drilling study launched


Two Bits Too Many For Beach Parking?

Alternatives ready for panel working on N.C. Beach-driving

Banner year for sea turtles (SC)

Park Service releases draft ORV management alternatives

Workbook comments on ORV management now available to public

2 turtle nests remain on Outer Banks beaches

Shore shortsightedness
related - http://www.newsobserver.com/news/v-print/story/1269277.html


Figure Eight owners want to keep their sandbags

Are rising sea levels a bigger threat here than hurricanes?

Washed-away home shows danger of living on edge on OBX

Hunting Island residents wonder how long new road will withstand erosion

Sea turtle nests thriving in North Carolina

Talks over Hatteras beach driving moved to new location

Christmas comes early with renourishment funding

Vitex removal now official


Beaches get $9 million in federal funds to pump sand

NC beaches get $9 million for renourishment (AP)

Ocean Isle to receive $2.5 million for beach renourishment

Beach panel OKs funds

Holden seeking aid after Hanna

Latest meeting of RegNeg subcommittee on ORV routes is another stalemate


Habitat status worries locals

Outer Banks' beach driving advocates wary of rule

Public opinion weighed in protecting the beach (SC)

Adore the shore: Island formalizing beach management plan (SC)

Council Approves Letter Of Objection To New Oceanfront Building Setback Rules

'Living shorelines' eyed to stop coastal erosion

Island moves forward with plan to rebuild groin at Lands End in Sea Pines

Beach nourishment panel highlights differences of opinion

Shell shock: Sea turtle nesting numbers reveal a banner year (SC)

Editorial: New Coastal Setback Rules Absurd

Our Katrina cometh


Storm sends one house into ocean, damages others in N.C.

A small storm causes big trouble on Hatteras Island

County dredges up support for beaches

The problems with the negotiated rulemaking process

N.C. coast: Beach benefits, costs up for discussion


Exposed sandbags could cause regulatory problems

Some coastal towns will have to pay for dredging
AP - http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/v-print/story/626392.html

One county, one voice: Committee aims to have uniformity of message

Mayor seeks support for terminal groins

County Commissioners Renew Contract With Washington Lobbying Firm


Onslow commissioners preserve beach access

North Topsail Beach hears status update on beach nourishment

Record number of nests on seashore take a beating from September storms

Dredge, nourish costs get OK

Commentary: A member of the negotiating committee looks at the process for an ORV plan


Federal dollars may fund Holden Beach sand restoration

Wrightsville Beach to undergo repairs after storm surge

Storm brings erosion, could have been worse, say officials

Beach homes may see new rules

Permits to allow faster repairs of frontal dunes

CRC approves changes to oceanfront setback and static line rules

CRC Approves Changes To Oceanfront Setback And Static Line Rules

Easley asks for help with Hanna

Beach vitex declared a public nuisance

Meeting on sonar range tonight

Sonar range concerns remain

Navy prefers Florida to Carolinas for sonar range

Navy likes Fla. site for sonar training

Negotiated rulemaking meetings will be moved from Hatteras

Shifting sands

Editorial - Time to retreat from the sea

Guest Column: A citizens’ beachwatch would help stop vandalism of resource closures


N.C. coastal regulators to allow homes to be built closer to the ocean

Coastal panel eases redevelopment rules

Whales may bump Navy sonar training field out of Fla. Site

Passing storm erodes Topsail

No-name storm hits beaches harder than Hanna

Bonner Bridge replacement finally makes some final progress


N.C. panel looks for beach sand funding

FEMA estimates cost of Holden Beach damage from Hanna

First letters regarding exposed sandbags mailed this week

Town allowed to repair Hanna-damaged dunes

Best hope for ORV plan still remains on Outer Banks

Controversy continues over videotaping of negotiated rulemaking meetings

NC Bonner Bridge replacement project moves forward

NC, federal road agencies agree on Bonner Bridge

Caswell Beach mayor hatches plan to save turtles from foxes


Raising sand over vehicles

Beach driving under way in E.I.

Static line might be changing

Whales could face sonar threat

Permits will allow night driving on Hatteras beaches

Beaches open to night driving with permit on Sept. 16; Village beaches reopen to ORVs

Bush admin, lawmakers spar over Cape Hatteras OHV regs, West Coast wilderness
Patrick Reis, E&E Daily reporter (09/12/2008)
The executive branch isn't budging from its stands against an off-highway vehicle measure in North Carolina and wilderness measures in California and Oregon despite pressure from Capitol Hill. Seeking to reopen the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) pushed H.R. 6233, which would reverse a judge's decision on a lawsuit from environmental groups that invalidated the National Park Service's interim management strategy, under which off-roading was permitted. Reacting to the ruling, a compromise was reached that closes seashore ramps to OHVs from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. and marks protective areas around nesting grounds for shorebirds. According to Jones, locals in Dare County were given little input into the compromise and forced to sign it to prevent beach closings during the height of the tourist season. By sticking their noses where they didn't belong, Jones added, environmentalists had derailed a successful history of cooperation between the county and the National Park Service. "This is a bill that reinstates common sense," Jones said yesterday at a National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee hearing. "These lands should be managed by elected officials and by the National Park Service, and not by a federal judge who wasn't elected by anybody."
The National Park Service, however, supports abiding by the compromise agreement until permanent regulations can be drafted because it provides better habitat protection on Hatteras' dunes, according to Daniel Wenk, deputy director of the Park Service. The Park Service took a similar stance on S. 3113, a comparable Senate measure introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.). The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday rejected, 11-12, an attempt to send S. 3113 to the floor. Forest Service resists land exchange, wilderness designation along Pacific Coast. Representatives were also disappointed when the administration refused to fully endorse bills to expand wilderness designations and "wild and scenic river status" designations in California and Oregon. Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) pushed H.R. 6156, which would designate nearly a half million acres in California as wilderness and confer 52 miles of wild and scenic river status in California, but received only limited support from the Forest Service. Forest Service Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop said that while the agency supported the intent of the bill, it opposed the bill in present form because it did not clarify management responsibilities and because some of the designations did not meet the criteria -- a stance that mirrored the service's analysis of H.R. 6156's companion legislation in the Senate, S. 3069 from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The Senate Energy Committee approved S. 3069 at yesterday's markup. The Forest Service took a similar stance on H.R. 6290, from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), which would designate about 130,000 acres surrounding Oregon's Mount Hood as wilderness and designate about 80 miles of a state river as wild and scenic, supporting the designation on some plots but labeling others ineligible. But the greatest outcry came from Rep. Peter Defazio (D-Ore.) when the Forest Service requested that action be delayed on his bill, H.R. 6291, until more research could occur. Defazio's bill would transfer about 4,070 acres of land from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to the National Park Service's Oregon Caves National Monument, a move DeFazio noted had been proposed repeatedly in the past 60 years, each time thwarted by calls for further evaluation. "This is a clear case of paralysis by analysis," Defazio said, accusing the Forest Service -- strapped by the high costs of fire suppression -- of continuing to insist on control over land it lacked the resources to adequately manage. Holtrop countered that, given the number of times the transfer had been proposed and denied, that it was a complicated matter that merited exhaustive review.

NPS, Forest Service weigh in on other land-use legislation

The National Park Service expressed conditional support for H.R. 3114 to create a commemorative trail connected to the Women's Rights National Historical Park, provided that provisions calling for specifically targeted grants for the project were scrapped. NPS recommended action be deferred for further study on H.R. 6470, which would incorporate historical battlefields from the War of 1812 in Michigan into a national park. The Forest Service conditionally supported H.R. 4162, which would exchange 71 acres from San Bernardino County in California with 53 acres from San Bernardino National Forest to the county to use for biomass and recycling activities, provided amendments were added to protect federal taxpayer investments. The Forest Service opposed H.R. 6628, which would transfer about 880 acres of land surrounding Connell Lake in Alaska now owned by the Forest Service to the local government, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, calling it unnecessary. It supported H.R. 6553 to revise the 1986 law dealing with use of national forests for ski areas, which currently mentions only nordic and alpine skiing, to include other snow sports such as snowboarding.


Beating Back the Ocean Proves an Enduring Riddle

Hanna robs OIB of sand, security

Will Hilton Head landowners be allowed to build closer to the beach?

Cape Hatteras ORV bill killed in U.S. Senate committee

House subcommittee hears testimony on legislation, but Senate nixes action

Panel rejects more driving on beach

Fight over NC beach driving rules reaches Congress

Negotiated rulemaking committee meets for two days, but finds little common ground

Turtle group wants to trap foxes that prey on eggs (AP)


Costs increase dramatically for proposed beach project

Hanna damage assessment could dictate road help

Shallotte Boulevard, East Second bear brunt of Hanna at Ocean Isle

Hearing to be held on Hatteras driving

Who should die? Turtles or foxes

Vitex debate hits Town Hall
related - http://www.luminanews.com/article.asp?aid=3091&iid=131&sud=44

Demonstrators send a message to RegNeg committee members


Dunes an important part of hurricane protection

Dredging credited with protecting beach

Man against nature

Storm erosion washes out Cabin Road

Coastal responsibilities


Kiawah sand spit bill gets ax

Island's heel needs quick fix on erosion, say town officials

Wrightsville might stand against beach vitex

Cabin owners hunting a solution to erosion

Cape Hatteras' Bodie Island Spit reopens to off-road vehicles

Bodie Island spit has re-opened to ORVs

Park Service announces plans for night beach driving permit

Rising seas and high-rises


N.C.'s Bonner Bridge project may face another delay

Sea turtles march in record numbers

Turtles cause frustration among NC fishermen (AP)

Five Hatteras turtle nests have been vandalized

Ocracoke’s South Point opens again

Shoreline Change Advisory Committee meets to discuss the state of our coasts (SC)


Access remains hot topic for PKS

Parking still free for now

Ketner criticizes Brown over bill

Caveat Emptor

Catching up with seashore issues with the park superintendent


Settlement reached with owners of condemned north end homes

NTB settles house dispute

Bill seeks federal money for beach (SC)

Brown defends Kiawah legislation

Negotiated rulemaking resumes on Sept. 8 and ORV access route proposals are on the table

Sea turtles are nesting on the seashore in record numbers

Turtles, eggs, and nesting: A simple primer


Sandbags don't hold up

OIB adds to erosion-combat effort

Bill in Congress would allow reduced insurance rates on new beachfront homes

Island board OKs new lighting law for turtles

Sea turtles take over Topsail

Park Service launches new ORV information brochure with partners

Beaches get four out of five stars

Editorial: Commissioners need to take a time out



Basnight and Judge address US Senate Committee

Dare to spend $100,000 to hire public relations firm

Part of Ocracoke Island beach reopened to driving

Areas of Ocracoke beach reopen - as nesting allows

Dispatches from the Beachfront: South Point reopens, then closes again; A mile of South Beach is open at Ramp 45

Access No. 33 detailed with sand fence

Commentary - Virginian-Pilot editorial slams legislation: What they said and what we say

State’s Masonboro State’s Masonboro

State completes land purchase on Masonboro Island
related - http://dcm2.enr.state.nc.us/News/2008%20releases/masonboro%20tract.html

Researchers tag whales, track ships in sonar study


State, island at odds over beachfront development (SC)

Leaning light spared from pounding surf

S.C. beach rankings recalled

Beach group offers reward for seashore vandalism

Clean at the coast

Response to Sandbag Editorial
Wilmington Star letter to the editor (8/1/08)
Your editorial “Tear Down These (Sandbag) Walls” perpetuates a number of misrepresentations and oversimplifies an important issue facing coastal communities. Frustration over exposed sandbags is understandable. However, their removal will not necessarily advance the public’s interest because it merely transfers erosion landward from one property to infrastructure and other development. Public access is not enhanced. Along approximately 70 miles of North Carolina’s 320 mile coast, we have built thriving economies that depend on healthy beaches. Erosion represents one of the main threats to those beaches. Sandbags, beach nourishment and inlet projects are the few tools we have to address erosion and protect beaches. Sandbags have worked in many cases to protect beaches and property until a nourishment or inlet relocation project is completed. Unfortunately, the time to implement these projects can often take longer than anticipated, particularly with increased competition for the very limited federal dollars made available for beach nourishment projects. A number of policy changes can help ensure that projects get funded and implemented in a timely fashion by encouraging the State, local communities and individual owners to work together on comprehensive beach management plans. Several years ago, many called for the removal of sand tubes protecting Shell Island Resort from Mason Inlet. The cooperative efforts by the State, New Hanover County, Wrightsville Beach, Figure Eight Island and many individuals showed that, given time, sandbags can do their job. The Mason Inlet project has achieved important environmental and economic results. Similarly, if we focus on addressing the real issues, we can ensure the sandbags perform their role as a temporary measure against shoreline erosion. Directing public ire at sandbags themselves serves no one’s interest. - Mack Paul, Raleigh
Mack Paul is a partner in the Raleigh office of K&L Gates LLP and represents coastal property owners who have installed sandbags.


Incorrect data washed up in S.C.

Senate panel weighs bill to nullify beach-driving terms

National Park Service does not support a return to interim plan

Vehicle violates protected nesting area at Cape Hatteras

A Sixth Deliberate Violation of Resource Protection Area

Park Service reports sixth violation of resource protection area

Park service, groups publish beach driving guide

NRDC issues water quality report

Wilmington Star Letter to the Editor - 8/1/08
EDITOR: I write with reference to your article "State drawing a line in the sand." "New Effort made to remove sandbags" pertaining to roughly 150 sandbag structures that had overstayed their permitted time on the beach - "structures" that are presumably someone's home or business or investment property. It seems that state officials are worried about "... getting overwhelmed by property owners [150?] seeking extensions or pursuing legal action ...", i.e. they are worried about citizens exercising their First Amendment rights "to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Ted Tyndall, bureaucrat, wants to "get the worst offenders first without flooding the agency with appeals from angry property owners." Heaven forbid, that employees of the state should have to be burdened by fairly responding to taxpayers trying to protect their rights and property. - Robert C. Royce, Wilmington


Oceanfront ruling sought

Popular Cape Hatteras fishing spot reopens to ORV traffic

N.C. beaches rank among nation's cleanest

Banks Channel site earns bad review on bacteria levels

Beach-quality report makes waves

Water Quality at U.S. Vacation Beaches Slightly Improved

Hilton Head's beaches score well in pollution ratings

S.C. beaches tank in pollution report

Another violation of a protected area increases buffer at Ramp 27

Tear down these (sandbag) walls


Sandbags' days are numbered along Nags Head

State develops ranking index to come up with strategy to prioritize sandbags for removal

Corps unveils dredging plan

Dispatches from the Beachfront: Cape Point is open to walkers and soon ORVs; But turtles will be closing other beaches

Senate subcommittee sets hearing on bill to set aside consent decree

It's best to stay out of the way

State drawing a line in the sand


Paid beach parking proposed

Inlet areas face new development rules

CRC proposed rules prompt public comments

Dredging of N.C.'s Oregon Inlet to clear way for boaters


Just relax, the beach is back
Visitors, locals marvel at wide sands after $10M renourishment project rescues resort

Rising for reptiles

Bald Head Island heads for record sea turtle nesting season

Cape Fear channel study a small step for new port

Dispatches from the Beachfront: Cape Point is open to walkers and soon ORVs; But turtles will be closing other beaches

For the birds, for everyone


Figure Eight's groin plan kicked to side by House committee

Nags Head won't pursue sand dredging project

Board weighs widening of N.C. beaches via nearby dredging

Waterfowl flock to inlet preserve

Much more than offshore drilling could be in the future for coastal waters

Don't poke holes in seawall ban


Ocean development focus of policy report

New oceanfront setback rules get support

North Myrtle Beach’s Beach Renourishment begins in August not July

DeBordieu Beach asks to build groin to save sand

Renourishment process begins (SC)

Waterbird nests 'hit' by human

Dole announces committee $34 million for projects


Hearing addresses changes to oceanfront setback rules

Holes can be a hazard

New dispatches from the beachfront: Access update, getting smart about beachdriving, manners and laws, and July 4 report

Fading birds find refuge here

A new way of seeing beaches


Limited Hatteras access keeps some away, residents say

Proposal to change setback requirements

Beach project slated to receive $368,000 in federal funds

Beaches get a boost with approval of federal funds

Guest Column: The case for passing legislation that returns management of the seashore to the Park Service

Coastal Report Card Mixed

Public needs say
Wilmington Star Letter to the Editor (7/3/08)
EDITOR: North Carolinians need to inquire as to why more hasn't been done by our government regarding the complete reopening of Cape Hatteras National Recreational Seashore. The public is being denied a role and opportunity to suggest ways that an environment that it cherishes deeply can be effectively managed. (The public was not allowed and has not participated in the negotiating process - only representatives of public organizations.) Congress, the federal judiciary, and Departments of Interior and Justice have failed in their duty to protect the constitutional rights of the public to have a say in the management of our park environment. Congress established the National Park Service and its professionals are responsible for making technical judgments and management decisions with regards to our parks and seashores. Now, Judge Boyle through judicial review has turned the Cape Hatteras National Recreational Seashore over to environmental activists - specifically, Defenders of Wildlife, the Southern Environmental Law Enforcement Center, and the National Audubon Society. The closing of areas within the seashore by our government is a new public policy attained by special interest groups and effectively turns the management of my (our) natural resource over to these environmental activist organizations through consent decree based on desires of a few, with no scientific evidence. The consent decree establishes a system of punishment and retaliation against the general public. - Ryan Young, Wilmington


Impact statement issues likely to delay beach nourishment

Debris washes up along shores of North Topsail

AP - North Topsail Beach official: Debris is peat, not asphalt

North Topsail seeks answers on beach project

Water Resources chief to retire as coastal project funding in flux

On Hilton Head, it's turtle nesting time again!

AP - Hilton Head Island patrol tracks sea turtles

Beach access bingo

Closed-minded on coast

Bureaucracies always applying more beach rules
related - http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880612093


As Beaches Creep In, Ownership Disputes Erupt

Return the management of the seashore to the Park Service: Dump the consent decree and pass the legislation

ORV fight is no place for Congress

State needs to provide annual funding for beaches


Federal legislation would overturn beach access ruling

N.C. begins push for removal of sandbags along coast

Surprise! Cannonball hits beach a bit too late for war

Navy, scientists search for common ground on sonar use

NOAA grants are keeping ocean-observing buoys afloat

Norfolk officials say dune projects are often illegal

Drive on?

Sandbag scenario

No parking there

Birds over people
Wilmington Star (6/13/08)
EDITOR: This is my first attempt at writing a letter to the editor, but I strongly feel this is an issue that people need to be made aware of. The Hatteras Island beaches are closed to everyone and everything except the birds (piping plovers). The beaches are closed from Oregon Inlet to Hatteras Inlet and all the way to the south end of Ocracoke. This is not just a summer nesting closure. There are plans to issue a Wintering Habitat Closure that will close the best fall and winter fishing spots on the East Coast. I guess these groups will not be happy until every beach on the East Coast is closed to taxpaying American citizens. We have made many friends on the island and it just kills me to see what these beach closures have done to their livelihood. With high gas prices and the beach closures, this has been a double whammy. This is a David and Goliath story. We are fighting several environmental groups and the Department of the Interior. This has been a difficult fight, but we will not give up. What scares me even more, it could happen here. We are very lucky that our beaches have remained open. I have seen firsthand how beach closures effect the economy, and it is not a pretty picture. - Karen Roberts, Wilmington


Bill in Congress aims to ease N.C. beach-driving strictures

Legislation seeks to nullify consent decree and reinstate interim plan on ORV use

Negotiated Rulemaking Committee will meet June 17-18

Parking spaces reserved for Oak Island residents causing a ruckus

Foxes are latest threat to sea turtle population, nesting shorebirdsFoxes are latest threat to sea turtle population, nesting shorebirds

Senators seeking $4 million from state for beaches

The little oystercatchers that could

Critical line setbacks could grow (SC)


Bird activity closes access at Cape Point at Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Newly hatched piping plover chicks close Ramp 44 and all Point access for now

Fewer vehicles on Carolina Beach's North End

Buoys guard against killers

Masonboro parcel to be purchased by North Carolina

Wrightsville rescues released from Sea Turtle Hospital

A sound beach policy, threatened once again


Emerald Isle expands beach access

E.I. improves beach access for people in wheelchairs

Cleared waterway benefits beach

Another deadline gets away in replacement of N.C.'s Bonner Bridge

Sea turtles get lift back home

Heading Home: Turtle Hospital releases 16 turtles

Renamed jetty threatens shore

Guest column: A critical look at designating critical habitat for wintering piping plovers


Beach Bucks

A $120 million boost

Topsail ends free waterway access at town marina

Public access, residential peace?

NPS and Outer Banks Visitor Bureau feature Google Maps for current beach access information

Small price for preservation

Letter to the editor
Wilmington Star (5/30/08)
EDITOR: I write with regard to your recent editorial, "Private property vs. public beaches." Both your editorial and the presumed ... "Honorables" miss the point. I would ask you all to physically visit the barrier beaches along the south shore of Long Island. (If you can't, try Google Maps). To prevent the erosion around the Montauk Point Lighthouse, groins were installed. Montauk Point was somewhat stabilized, westerly lying beaches were negatively affected. The littoral drift along this barrier beach is from east to west. Sand is collected on the east side of a groin with the beaches to the west scoured of normal sand banks and beaches. The silly answer to lost beach depth: have politically connected adjacent towns (East and South Hampton) and Ocean Beach Village build their own groins further along the beach to the west in sequence: more east side collection worse west side scouring. What were once wide and generous beaches west of Ocean Beach are now narrow ribbons with surf often reaching the dunes' feet. Are we to replicate this folly here in coastal Carolina by changing the normal patterns of littoral drift and tidal action? Let's hope that Wrightsville Beach is on the "collecting side of the groins." - Robert C. Royce, Wilmington

Letter to the editor
Wilmington Star (6/2/08)
EDITOR: Unfortunately for our shorelines, this is not a private vs. public issue. We are not just losing expensive real estate, we are losing habitat. Much of this loss is manmade. As such, we must mitigate this as we would any other manmade environmental problem. Heavily marketed inlet dredging and offshore sand mining for beach nourishment - in truth a starvation diet - contributes to more erosion ... Navigation dredging forces saltwater deeply inland while increasing the rate of fresh water flowing out of our coastal systems. "Nourished" beaches erode rapidly and mining the offshore devastates seabed habitats while removing storm energy dampening shoals. Many homeowners and environmentalists (as North Carolina's great Hugh Morton) have found an alternative to sandbags and expensive, environmentally damaging beach nourishment: Holmberg Technologies. This method works with natural forces and materials to halt erosion and rebuild the shoreline without causing further erosion. Such innovative methods are unlikely to be implemented, however, as long as the dredging industry and its coastal consultants seem to control our coastlines and continue to make great profits on current, counterproductive dredging projects. - Jerry Berne, Charlotte


Drivers find Hatteras beaches less and less accessible

State to purchase 23 acres of land on Masonboro Island

Sandbag removal upheld

Completion of Access 33 fence represents next step in land transfer

Dispatches from the beachfront

Beach Groins and Unintended Consequences


Wild Dunes finally gets a dose of sand

Wild Dunes gets more sand as tourism season starts (AP)

Treat inlets like highways, CRC suggests

Battle rages over nesting shorebirds

UNC students document erosion

Guest Column: The consent decree is a classic example of bad public policy

Private property vs. public beaches


Commission refuses to alter sandbag rules

Sandbags can't stay on beaches

Cape Hatteras is No. 8 of Dr. Beach's best

Coastal island off limits: Live ammo in sand

Forecasters say Virginia coastline will retreat dramatically

Memorial Day visitors will face unprecedented beach closures


New beach team gets to work

Second act of vandalism of shorebird closure fencing

More N.C. beach off-limits after vandals hit again

Ocean Isle Beach wins recognition

More bird protection fences vandalized on NC beach (AP)


Consensus sought on vegetation line

CRC subcommittee discusses sandbags, nourishment

North Topsail discusses beach nourishment and trust issues

Buffer zone around bird closure increased after site is vandalized

Wave monitoring buoy deployed off Wrightsville Beach

Access 33 fence construction begins


Beach erosion options limited

Beach project to resume

Planning Commission To Discuss Proposed Changes To CAMA Setbacks


Shore bird buffers close 3 popular Outer Banks beaches

Park Service closes more of the South Beach near Cape Point

Carolinas need flexibility to counter continued sea-level rise

ORV use on Cape Hatteras Recreational Park


Beach House on the Move

Setback and static line rules amended, sent back to public hearing with Coastal Resources Commission

Three popular areas closed to ORVs under consent decree

Nesting closes some Hatteras seashore beaches

Judge Accepts Consent Decree

Hatching a plan


Sandbag reviews to begin

N.C. Coastal Management To Begin Inventory of Coastal Sandbag Structures

N.C. judge approves Hatteras beach driving settlement

Parties to ORV lawsuit agree on settlement; details and maps are now public

Beach driving lives, but there'll be limits

N.C. Judge OKs beach driving, with caveats (AP)

Turn out those lights! Loggerhead turtles heading back to island (SC)


Committee plans to seek long-term solutions to beach erosion

Renourishment to hit the beach in July (SC)

Tuman: Beach nourishment necessary

Seashore leader files information on the eve of hearing

Hearing scheduled for proposed NC beach driving settlement (AP)

Panel wants Corps’ help

Alderman Richard Farley represents the majority


New shore Web site makes a big splash

Topsail Beach faces request for extra $62K

County opposes beach traffic restrictions

National Park Service responds to judge’s second round of questions

Reporter's Notebook: Truck fishing the inlets in jeopardy?

Time for bridge decision review


Farley: Funding, not beach nourishment, is the issue

Judge wants details of beach plan pact (AP)

Turtle season hatches May 1

Sconset beach project rejected by huge margin (MA)


Beach maps, stats online
Service allows users to search for coastal info

Finding a solid solution

Beach driving deal at Hatteras questioned by federal judge

Judge's briefing on settlement over Hatteras beach driving is canceled

Park official says beach driving settlement needs resources (AP)

Loggerhead turtle nests lag, green and leatherbacks are up

Time for bridge decision review


Beach driving at Cape Hatteras to stay, with limits

Parties to ORV lawsuit agree on settlement; details and maps are now public

Beach driving pact goes to federal judge

Environmental groups, park service agree on beach driving

Hunting Island continues to be one of S.C.'s fastest eroding beaches

Inlet costs included in upcoming budget

The sea is rising, but are we ready?

NTB officials not representing taxpayers

NTB Alderman Farley’s motives questioned

NTB officials hard to trust

Alderman Farley wants oceanfront property


Like sand through an hourglass

Beach seems to be coming back on own (SC)

Wild Dunes to pay $18,000 for littering (SC)

Wild Dunes to pay $18,000 for littering coast with sandbags (AP)

Erosion-control on famous golf hole will have to wait till Heritage ends (SC)

Beach driving negotiations stall

Beach driving deal in works

Tentative agreement reached in N.C. beach-driving case

New deal would allow beach driving

Still watching and waiting: Parties agree to settlement of beach-driving lawsuit; Public may know details on Wednesday, April 16

ORV access supporters are raising funds for legal fees

NC State study links beach driving to oystercatcher mortality


Beach condominium policy doesn't erode (SC)

Beach Access No. 33 signed, sealed, delivered

They’re digging in

Transcript of April 4 meeting in Boyle’s courtroom now available

What's driving beach restrictions

The public's coast

Off-road vehicles face fed rules, not elimination at Cape Lookout
Carteret County News Times by Eren Tataragasi (4/9/08)
BEAUFORT — At Monday night’s meeting with the National Park Service and Cape Lookout staff, the public was told none of the alternatives regarding the new off-road vehicle management plan include eliminating off-road vehicle (ORV) use completely. “It’s an appropriate use, but we need a regulation and a site-specific plan,” said Michael Edwards, planner with the environmental quality division of the NPS. The Duke Marine Lab auditorium was nearly full with members of several fishing clubs and other seashore regulars. The action to create an ORV management plan for the Cape Lookout seashore was sparked by a recent lawsuit involving Cape Hatteras National Seashore and other national parks. Without a plan, Mr. Edwards said ORV use would be illegal even though it’s an appropriate use for Cape Lookout. The use of off-road vehicles at Cape Lookout has long been a tradition for campers and fishermen native to this region, and those who are used to this lifestyle want restrictions in place to make sure the shore is used responsibly. “Most of us are ORV users and our concerns are outside pressures from the Audubon or Bluewater (an environmental group), but they don’t use the park – we are better stewards than they are – we’re always doing park cleanups, etc. It means a lot to us,” said Art Noyes of Atlantic who is a member of the Carteret County Mobile Sports Fishermen. Mr. Noyes said, after the meeting, the mobile sports fishermen and other groups that use the seashore have dealt with this issue and the park service for a long time. “We don’t want unrestricted use, we are for responsible ORV management,” Mr. Noyes said. “We have our own rules in the club and we have educational programs. We don’t want people to do whatever they want because it makes us look bad.” Mr. Noyes said the various groups that use the seashore for recreation make it their job to educate the people who visit, and that the park staff should worry about enforcement.
“A lot of the problems come from having too many people – but on these banks, it’s not that crowded,” Mr. Noyes said. “We’ve done well at Cape Lookout and its because we’re not well-known and hard to get to. The North Core doesn’t get the numbers the South Core does because of the lighthouse.” Mr. Noyes said treatment of the park is common sense and common courtesy and that the staff has been very good to work with. “We’re trying to pass this stuff down to our kids and grandkids,” Mr. Noyes said. “And (the NPS) have to protect the resources and we realize that.” In the meeting, Mr. Edwards said the National Park Service operates under the National Environmental Policy Act, enacted in 1964, which requires and imposes analysis and review requirements on federal decision makers. That means, every time the National Park Service wants to do something, they must to an environmental impact analysis and seek public input. The NPS also has to abide by two executive orders that say ORV use must be regulated to ensure minimal impact to an area and its species as well as the cultural and natural resources. “We’ve been sort of negligent in enforcing the regulations, but we’re committed to a long-range plan,” Mr. Edwards said during the meeting. “We’ve seen what happened at Hatteras and if we did not act, ORV use would be illegal.” Mr. Edwards said the use of ORV’s at Hatteras was at risk of being dissolved and the only way around that, through its court settlement, was to do an environmental impact statement and regulation. The planning for the Cape Lookout ORV management plan began in May 2007 with internal scoping by the NPS, followed by a series of public scoping meetings in September. This spring the NPS will create alternatives and then have an impact analysis done in the fall. In the spring of 2009, the park service will prepare the draft plans for the environmental impact study and draft regulation and there will be 60 days for the public to comment on the draft. In the winter they’ll prepare the final plan and in the summer obtain a record of decision making the plan legal. And in the fall of 2010 the plan will be published in the Federal Register. Questions raised at Monday’s meeting included ones about handicap access, the potential for future lawsuits and the impact of other environmental groups, such as the Audubon Society or Bluewater. Mr. Edwards said, regarding handicap access, wherever public access is allowed, there will be handicap access. As for any potential lawsuits, Mr. Edwards said this plan would not prevent them, but it would certainly help the park come out on top. “What’s clear is without a plan, you don’t have a chance. With a plan, the question becomes did you do it right, not is it legal?” Mr. Edwards said. “The park staff has done a great job of preserving the areas and species on the shore, which is why we haven’t heard complaints.” Mr. Edwards said the park service wants to make sure ORV use is reasonable and with restraints. He said the main focus for ORV use is on the North and South Core banks.
One person in attendance asked if maybe use of ORV would be considered for Shackleford Banks, which is also part of the seashore, and Mr. Edwards said “no.” And in regard to outside influence from environmental action groups like Bluewater and the Audubon Society, Mr. Edwards said any input the parks service receives from them weigh no more than input it receives from the public. Mr. Edwards ended the meeting Monday night by saying that because Cape Lookout is a national park, Congress has high standards of preservation in place that the parks must meet. “We’re dedicated to that standard, but we also want to preserve its use,” he said. For those unable to attend Monday’s meeting, the park service’s Alternative Options Workbook is available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/CALO. Comments can be submitted electronically by e-mailing Blank page@lousberger.com and can also be mailed to Cape Lookout National Seashore, Attn: Wouter Ketel, 131 Charles Street , Harkers Island , N.C. 28531. The public has until June 5 to comment on the alternatives for the ORV use management plan.

NTB short sighted in beach nourishment
Topsail Voice Letter to the Editor (4/9/08)
Although disenfranchised oceanfront property owner in North Topsail Beach [Shipwatch Villas], I, as a taxpayer, want to make my views known on the issue of beach nourishment. Although my numbers may not be exact, I believe them to be directionally correct. There are approximately 3,200 residences in North Topsail Beach (NTB). There are approximately 800 registered voters in NTB. Assuming that there are 1.5 registered voters per residence, the registered voters occupy approximately 500 residences or 16 percent of the total. Of the 800 registered voters, no more than 600 voted in the most recent NTB election. As for Onslow County, I believe the tax base of property located in NTB equals the tax base of all of Jacksonville. I believe that you will agree with me that the issue of beach nourishment is a political hot potato. The Aldermen have repeatedly cited the failure of the bond issue as the basis for their not proceeding with beach nourishment, despite overwhelming evidence that beach nourishment is desired by a majority of all NTB property owners. The end is agreed upon, but not the means. The most recent actions of the Aldermen in dissolving the Beach Nourishment Committee, denying additional funding to the engineering firm hired by NTB to obtain required permits, and leaving Topsail Reef residents hanging out to dry are irrational at best. Although the Aldermen in dissolving the committee stated they were not dissolving the committee, only realigning its membership, I do not believe they have taken any action to reactivate the committee. NTB had already spent $1.6 million on beach nourishment studies, now wasted. Topsail Reef had agreed to pay one-half of the funds required to add sand to its public beach, but the offer was rejected, because the Aldermen thought the Reef should pay more. Alderman Swantek is quoted in the March 26, 2008 issue of Topsail Voice as stating that, if the Reef paid one-half of the funds required, each owner of the Reef would only be paying $311 and that by renting their units the owners could recoup that amount in a week. That quote speaks volumes. The reference to “renters” really is what underlies this whole beach nourishment issue. Those of us who own oceanfront properties as vacation homes are considered second-class citizens, the town and county will gladly accept our tax monies to fund new jails, in the case of Onslow County, or to fund the operations of NTB. But we remain outsiders – almost unwanted intruders, especially in season. This is a very shortsighted and parochial view. Almost all of the commentary – either from Jacksonville or NTB residents – opposing beach nourishment assumes that once the oceanfront properties disappear, there will be no adverse impact on the town or county. For the life of me I can’t understand that mentality. Who is going to replace the tax revenues lost? I am afraid it will be the Onslow County and NTB residents/property owners who remain. A decreased tax base means less revenue for all those government services - now feeding off the oceanfront property tax stream. Eventually, NTB will be required to unincorporate or be annexed by Surf City or Sneads Ferry, as NTB will not have the funds necessary to maintain all the services required of an incorporated municipality. The reduction in tax revenues will occur sooner rather than later. The inability of owners to sell their properties because of beach erosion will lower the appraised values the next time around. The lack of beach nourishment will lower all property values, and not just those on the north end of NTB. Buyers tend to paint with broad brushes and will not distinguish between COBRA versus non-COBRA properties, soundside versus oceanfront, first row versus second row. We bought our condominium in 1984, well before NTB was incorporated. (Of course, we could not vote on that issue either.) It is sad to see what has become of this area. Just within our complex of 76 units, we have approximately 20 for sale, and no takers, even at significantly reduced prices. Perhaps there are those that believe that a return to nature is best – that a beach uncluttered with residences is the answer. Sometimes you get what you wish for and sometimes what you wish for is not what you wanted. I urge each branch of government – city, county and state – to reconsider their respective positions on beach nourishment. Time is of the essence. Another Category 3 hurricane this summer may well mean that the time to act has passed. - Mark J. Hanket, Rochester Hills, MI

No representation for NTB taxation
Topsail Voice Letter to the Editor (4/9/08)
As a property owner at North Topsail Beach I plead with you to do an article on the Alderman of North Topsail. They have all but destroyed the town beach nourishment project; for personal gains or vendettas. It has been all over the TV news but they have declined any interviews. The non-resident owners are not allowed to vote; therefore, our voice is not heard. We are asking the Topsail Voice to be our voice. We have no representation for our taxation. - Eddy Craven, High Point


Parties seek time to make deal on Hatteras ORVs

Watching and Waiting:
Hearing on injunction may be delayed for a week

Settlement being negotiated in lawsuit aimed at beach driving (AP)

Some hope for saving waterfronts

Local officials hear the latest at annual coastal meeting
Carteret County News Times by Lori Wynn and Shannon Kemp (4/4/08)
PINE KNOLL SHORES — Sand management, stormwater controls and wind energy were the top items during the first two days of the N.C. Beach, Inlet and Waterway Association’s (NCBIWA) 2008 Coastal Local Government’s Meeting held this week at the N.C. Aquarium here. County government and municipal officials from Carteret and other coastal counties met Wednesday and Thursday in the aquarium’s Soundside Hall to hear about 20 speakers give presentations on sandbags, beach and inlet management, regional sand management, stormwater rules, wind energy and more. Presentations on low-impact development, the Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund, the Morehead City Harbor project and other issues were on today’s agenda to conclude the three-day event. A “Lunch and Learn” session Wednesday explained the history of sandbags, how and why they are used throughout the coast and gave light to concerns expressed over some sandbags still in place throughout the state past their life-time limit. Ted Tyndall with the N.C. Division of Coastal Management (DCM) said the division was not against sandbags as was previously thought. He said there has been a lot of misinformation about the DCM’s May 1 removal deadline stating all sandbags across the coastline will be taken up. Currently there are sandbags protecting about five houses in Emerald Isle near The Point, the western-most part of the town. Those sandbags are exempt from the May 1 deadline because of a two-year extension granted to Emerald Isle by the Coastal Resource Commission (CRC) earlier this month. The town was granted the extension because it is actively pursuing beach nourishment projects and has already put in a large sum of its own money to do so. He said the DCM is trying to enforce its rules and remove the sandbags that are affecting public beaches, but they are not looking forward to it since the issue is so heated. Mr. Tyndall said sandbags started as a tool for the temporary protection of roadways, building and property from encroaching water until the property owner could move the structure or a beach nourishment project could replenish the beach. Sandbags protecting homes and private property have a two-year life span while sandbags protecting larger structures, such as condominiums or municipal property, had a five-year life span in order to give the property owner time to make other arrangements – after that, the sandbags were to be removed. However, if a community was actively pursuing a beach nourishment project and sand bags were still in place, not covered by sand and stable vegetation, a variance was sometimes granted to extend the sandbags stay, as is the case with Emerald Isle. Mr. Tyndall said extensions and variances have happened time and again, and some sandbags have been on the beach for years past their expiration date. He said the DCM was trying to be sympathetic to the plight of the property owner and therefore extended the life of several sandbags established in the mid-1990s to May 1, 2008. Letters were sent out to about 375 property owners across the coast reminding them of the May 1 deadline, stating that their sandbags may or may not have to be removed. When the May 1 removal deadline arrives, the DCM will look at all individual properties and determine then if the sandbags in place will need to be removed – based on certain criteria such as the condition of the sandbags, whether or not they are blocking public access to beaches, whether or not they are covered with sand and stable vegetation and if the town is actively pursuing beach nourishment projects. Harry Simmons, director of NCBIWA, added, “Just to let (the structures) fall into the ocean is not a reasonable or viable option.” So, some considerations will also be made for towns or property owners who are actively pursuing beach nourishment projects to build up the beach around the sandbags. The information will be plugged into a database and those sandbags deemed worthy of removal will be taken up based on priority. “There will probably about 100 properties with sandbags that aren’t compliant and will need to be removed,” Mr. Tyndall said. The ones that aren’t compliant are the ones the DCM and CRC are concerned with. Mr. Tyndall said while the organizations are sympathetic towards property owners, they do not want people to have sandbags established on public beaches if they’re not pursing anything to re-establish the beach and cover the sandbags. He also said it was uncertain exactly how long the whole sandbag removal process would take but said he knew “it is going to be a long drawn-out process,” based on the lack of staff who would be dedicated full time to the project and how many people might contest or protest the removal of their sandbags.
Thursday began with a discussion with Bradley Bennett and Bill Diuguid of the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) on the new Coastal Stormwater Rules that were recently passed by the N.C. Rules Review Commission and will likely be taken up during the General Assembly’s short session in May. If not voted down by both chambers of the legislature, the rules will go into effect for the state’s 20 coastal counties, including Carteret , on Aug. 1 of this year. The rules are designed to protect shellfishing (SA) waters and do so by making development regulations restrictive, particularly areas that are within a half-mile of SA waters. Components of the rules include reducing the low-density threshold for implementing stormwater controls to manage runoff from a one-year, 24-hour storm for areas within that half-mile area from 25 percent to 12 percent. For areas outside that half-mile, the low-density threshold is 24 percent and must control the first 1.5 inches of rainfall. Vegetative setbacks or buffers from waterways would increase from 30 to 50 feet, and wetlands could not be used in the equation to determine how much impervious surface can be placed on a development. The rules would apply to any nonresidential development impacting 10,000 square feet or more and residential developments impacting 1 acre or more. Residential development greater than 10,000 square feet but less than 1 acre in the 20 counties would not need a stormwater permit, but Best Management Practices (BMPs), such as using rain barrels and pervious material for driveways and roads to control stormwater, would be necessary. Some concern was raised during the discussion Thursday about what would be allowed in a buffer and whether the buffer regulation would apply to existing single-family homeowners. Mr. Bennett said the buffer would apply anytime a Coastal Area Management Act permit was needed. “A single-family, existing residence that doesn’t have a buffer, and didn’t need one before, won’t need one now,” he said. “If you have a permit that sets a 30- or 50-foot buffer, you will have to maintain that buffer. You can’t expand into it.”
He also noted that only impervious surfaces would not be allowed in the buffer. Slated wooden decks were not considered impervious, he said. Following discussion with DWQ, County Manager John Langdon spoke and raised questions of ambiguities in the rules and the power he said they could give to permitting officials. Because the rules are difficult to read thoroughly and understand properly, the General Assembly has a challenge ahead if it takes up the Coastal Stormwater Rules in May, the manager said. While the General Assembly could say the rules need to go back for more tweaking, because it is meeting in short session the rules could be implemented with their current ambiguities. “Everyone needs to be concerned about ambiguous language because permitting officials are going to rule,” Mr. Langdon said. “It (the law) won’t be the rule, they (permitting officials) will rule.” Some proponents of the rules favor them because they will slow development, he said, but they will impact middle-class and lower-middle-class people more than successful developers. “If wealthy people want to live on the coast, they will live on the coast,” he said. Carteret County will likely fair the rules fine, Mr. Langdon said, but the rules are “one size fits all” and will hurt the more rural coastal counties of the state. Frank Tursi of the N.C. Coastal Federation, who was not scheduled to speak during the event, said the deterioration of the water quality in the White Oak River during the past 10 years was a perfect example of why the rules were needed.
Ten years ago, the entire river was open to shellfishing, he said, but now two-thirds of it is closed permanently due to bacteria that enter the river by way of stormwater runoff. “Now, what has occurred in the last 10 years?” he said. “A lot of growth has occurred.” Mr. Tursi noted that because shellfishing is not allowed in parts of the White Oak River, and therefore closed to its federally determined use, the state is in noncompliance with the federal Clean Water Act and must take action regarding its noncompliant waters. Mr. Langdon said the problem lies more with existing development and stormwater plans that don’t meet current standards rather than new development. But regulation has a tendency to spark innovation in developers and engineers, Mr. Tursi said. “I expect the same will be the case for these rules,” he said.
Following a recess in the conference, another issue discussed Thursday was Senate Bill 3 and wind energy in North Carolina , which was presented in a PowerPoint slideshow by Stanford Baird and Eric Braun with Kennedy Covington law firm of North and South Carolina. Senate Bill 3, which was passed in August of last year, requires that 12.5 percent of the state’s utilities must come from renewable energy sources by 2021. North Carolina was the 25th state in the country to mandate a renewable energy portfolio and the only state in the southeast. The bill applies to the state’s three major energy producers, Duke Energy, Progress Energy and Dominion, who can reach the 12.5-percent goal by generating their own renewable energy at their facilities or can purchase power from another renewable energy facility. Although power from solar energy and biomass is included in the bill, wind energy has become a hot- button issue in Carteret with the proposal of a 4.5-megawatt (MW) wind farm on 33 acres in the Down East community of Bettie. The County Board of Commissioners in March approved a nine-month moratorium on wind turbines and other similar tall structures so the County Planning Department can form regulations on their construction. The moratorium was prompted by Down East citizens opposed to the wind farm project, known as Golden Wind Farm, that would consist of three, 1.5 MW turbines that would stand more than 300 feet tall with the vertical reach of the rotary blades. Mr. Stanford said that North Carolina has the potential to meet about 8 percent of its electricity consumption with wind energy. While most of the southeast has little wind potential, the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout areas along the coast have some of the greatest wind potential along the East Coast. He noted that the state has no overall siting and permitting requirements when it comes to wind turbines but found that Currituck, Camden , Watauga and Ashe counties, as well as Kill Devil Hills, have created wind turbine ordinances in the last year or so.
After a lunch break, the conversation moved back to sand management issues Thursday afternoon as Peter Ravella, who is with Coastal Technology Operations in Austin , Texas , presented a comprehensive explanation on what local communities can do to finance beach projects. Beach replenishment projects are a great way to manage the shoreline but it may be difficult to finance such projects, he said. “Keep it simple,” was the mantra Mr. Ravella said would help any project succeed, no matter how hard the project. He said financing beach nourishment projects was hard because of the duality of beaches – the public and private view of the beach. The beach is public and generates tourism and an increase in public revenue but also has an impact on private residents, whose property value increases because of the beachfront locale. The duality is the key to funding, Mr. Ravella said. When asked to pay for the cost of beach nourishment, those with a private interest would focus on the public point of view and those with a public interest would focus on the private property point of view. Both need to contribute, but how much each will contribute is the tricky part. Residents who visit the beach and live on the beach were just one potential funding source. Mr. Ravella went through a variety of potential funding sources available to towns seeking beach projects. The three main sources were federal, state and local. If a project is funded federally, the municipality would have to match 40 to 50 percent of the funds. However, federal funding takes between five and 10 years to be approved, Mr. Ravella said, “and literally takes an act of Congress to be approved.” The next best funding source, if towns were able to bypass federal funding altogether, is state funding, he said. He explained there were annual state grant funds available but said the best and most efficient way to fund beach projects was locally. “But you have to be able to talk about the project locally, you have to be able to tell who all is involved, how much they are going to pay and why,” Mr. Ravella said. If landowners are asked to pay more than a third of the cost of the project then the project is in trouble politically, he said, “because it goes back to the duality of the beach.” Mr. Tyndall said no matter where the money comes from, there is no perfect answer and no one right answer for every beach – the town’s political figures and residents need to work together.


Judge to decide ORV issue Friday, April 4

Judge to weigh rights of wildlife, drivers on beaches

State funds water access projects

State to spend $20 million for coastal projects

Beach nourishment only alternative for controlling erosion
Topsail Letters to the Editor (4/2/08)
There is ongoing discussion regarding the North Topsail Beach Coastal Planning and Engineering project. In public forums of many types, statements are often made that survey responses state “90-percent wanted the town to ‘address beach erosion.’” The response to this by some is “Not the same thing,” referring to beach nourishment. This is a misconception. The person using this argument is referring to a 2006 survey taken by the town of North Topsail Beach. One question in the survey of all property owners asked, “Do you believe beach erosion is something the town of North Topsail Beach should address? Ninety point eight percent of the people answered yes. I will not use my own words because they will be subject to interpretation by others but instead I will quote to you from the Surf City and North Topsail Beach , NC , Shore Protection Project Feasibility Report, Alternative Formulation Briefing, August 2006 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District. The Executive Summary, page i, paragraph 3, states: “The principal purpose (of the shore protection project that we call simply beach nourishment) is the reduction of damages associated with hurricane and storm events and beach erosion.” Clearly, the Corps of Engineers believes that beach nourishment projects reduce beach erosion and is a major reason for beach nourishment projects. The 590 citizens who responded yes to the 2006 survey must also believe they were giving an opinion on beach nourishment especially since the survey was titled the “Beach Nourishment Projects Survey.” Further, the same study from the Corps of Engineers on page 16,, defines “beachfill.” “Measures included under beachfill plans are berms, dunes, terminal structures and combinations of these measures. These measures are constructed of sand delivered from offsite borrow areas. A berm is a fill extending seaward from the existing profile to prevent erosion to the existing shoreline. Berms are sacrificial measures that are refurbished at periodic intervals. Dunes are taller, narrower fill to replace the function of existing damaged or lost dunes and prevent storm damage by reducing wave energy and overwash.” In North Carolina, bulkheads, jetties, or terminal groins are generally not allowed by law on our shoreline. The only alternative for controlling erosion in North Carolina is beach nourishment. - Becky Bowman, North Topsail Beach

Aldermen who voted against beach plan are traitors
Topsail Letters to the Editor (4/2/08)
I recently purchased a condo at Topsail Reef. I had owned a condo in Florida for 20 in Daytona Beach. They suffered the same beach erosion and fortunately, they had the intelligence to have it replenished. If all of the communities felt the same way as North Topsail Beach officials, the new coastal cities would be Charlotte, Wilmington, Orlando, etc. It shouldn’t even be up for discussion, contact the US Army Core of Engineers and get it done. Waiting this long to address the problem put these communities in this situation. Also, please read the article on Bethany Beach, Delaware. They just had their beach put back and do not bring in the tourist North Topsail and Surf City bring it. The beach situation in North Topsail Beach should be treated as a state of emergency and brought to the Governor’s attention. It should be considered a natural disaster with disaster relief. Any alderman who voted against replacing the beach, needs to be removed immediately as a traitor to the very community he is suppose to serve. - Carol Hodgkiss, Pittsburgh, PA

Find out why they voted against beach nourishment
Topsail Letters to the Editor (4/2/08)
I would like to ask the Topsail Voice to run some detailed interview stories in which the North Topsail Beach board of aldermen explain to us taxpayers their rationale for voting against beach renourishment projects. As I interpret your latest article, it might be the time for a public referendum, to vote the current group out and start over. - Gordon Mathes, North Topsail Beach


State hopes to wipe out pretty but invasive plant

Town gets two years
Carteret County News Times by Shannon Kemp (3/30/08)
EMERALD ISLE — As the state prepares to enforce a May 1 deadline to remove sandbags along the coast, Emerald Isle residents between The Point and Channel Drive will be sitting high and dry thanks to a sandbag extension granted Friday to the town by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission (CRC). According to Town Manager Frank Rush, the state’s May 1 deadline does not affect the town’s request for the two-year extension. “We didn’t nourish the beach at that area. It was all natural accretion. That’s why these sandbags are not subject to that May 1 deadline,” said Mr. Rush who presented the town’s request for a variance before the CRC’s regular meeting in Kitty Hawk. The CRC is the policy-making body that enforces the N.C. Coastal Area Management Act. The deadline to clear sandbags that protect homes, hotels and roads throughout the state is aimed toward the removal of many long-time sandbags that were put in place in conjunction with beach nourishment projects. The state first allowed sandbags on beaches as temporary erosion controls to give communities time to seek other ways to nourish beaches and protect homes from the encroaching ocean. Officials have repeatedly extended deadlines for the removal of sandbags, putting some sandbags well over the two-year lifespan the state allows in order to protect personal property. This has caused some sandbags to become permanent fixtures on the beach. Sandbags protecting commercial and municipal properties have a five-year lifespan, but separate regulations are being considered to extend the lifespan indefinitely of sandbags used to protect residential property. State regulators estimate about 150 sandbag permits were issued before 2006. Sandbags associated with those permits are still exposed and will need to be pulled. Bags covered by sand and stable vegetation, thanks to successful beach nourishment projects, may remain. Because the CRC granted the town a variance for its sandbags, the town may keep them for two more years. The original deadline for the sandbags at The Point was November 2007. However, the bags were covered with sand and stable vegetation because of natural accretion of sand after a project to relocate the Bogue Inlet Channel was completed in 2005. Those bags did not need to be removed. But because recent erosion caused the sandbags to be uncovered, state regulations require those sandbags to be removed. The town requested a variance to allow accretion to continue in the area. The town hopes to see the area stabilize and accretion continue within the two-year period. “One main reason I think we were successful is that the CRC recognized that Emerald Isle has done a lot of good things,” Mr. Rush said. “It’s also still a belief that the (channel relocation) project in 2005 will still be successful.” He said the Bogue Inlet Channel relocation project had a four- to six-year time period for the area to stabilize completely. “We aren’t even through year three of the project,” he said. While the May 1 deadline for removing sandbags does not affect Emerald Isle, it does affect many other towns on the state’s coast. Debbie Smith, mayor of Ocean Isle Beach and chairman of the N.C. Beach , Inlet and Waterway Association, said in a news report, “I think it’s going to be very tough to pull out these sandbags knowing that after the first good high tide you’re going to have houses dropping in the ocean.” Senate majority leader Marc Basnight, a Democrat from coastal Dare County , said he opposes a blanket order to pull out all sandbags. He said in news reports that sandbags out of the surf zone protecting property should be allowed to stay. “If it’s a case where they’re sitting in a beach area blocking someone from swimming or creating an obstacle course on the beach, then they should be removed,” Sen. Basnight said. Several property owners have applied for extensions to keep the sandbags longer while others have threatened legal action. But state officials have also taken legal action to force the removal of sandbags. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources filed a complaint last year in New Hanover County superior court trying to force a Kure Beach condominium complex to remove sandbags. Jim Stephenson, coastal policy analyst with the N.C. Coastal Federation, an environmental group based in Ocean, said fixing the state’s broken sandbag policy will require some difficult decisions. “It’s never easy to convince people that it’s time for a white flag,” Mr. Stephenson said.

Lawyer helped shield beaches from intensive development

Roots of CAMA

Letter to the Editor
Carteret County News Times (3/30/08)
No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session — Mark Twain
In a recent Tar Heel of the Week column, Milton Heath is recognized for drafting the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA). With various degrees from Phillips Exeter, Harvard, Columbia and stints at the governor’s office in Albany, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government attorney “… wound up being the only lawyer serving the legislature’s environmental committee.” According to the article, CAMA has been an outstanding success “because Carolina Beach doesn’t look like Myrtle Beach and cottage owners were not allowed to build seawalls.” According to Robin Smith, assistant secretary to Bob Ross at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), “… seawalls cause the beach to disappear at high tide.” Todd Miller, executive director of the N.C. Coastal Federation, heaped more accolades commenting, “The seawall ban was Heath’s most important legacy.” I am not a coastal engineer or geologist. I have no law degree. I don’t even have a government or nonprofit organization position. However, I know a seawall when I see a seawall. Ms. Smith, Mr. Miller, we have seawalls on the Crystal Coast. No Ms. Smith, the beach doesn’t disappear at high tide. There’s good reason why Mr. Ross, Ms. Smith and Mr. Miller did not know about the seawalls. They are buried under sand! CAMA did not put the sand there. The N.C. Coastal Federation opposed putting the sand there. With all due respect to Mr. Heath, Mr. Ross, Ms. Smith and Mr. Miller, Tar Heels should thank Cap’n Jim Willis of Atlantic Beach. He held the N.C. Ports Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers accountable for the sand they proposed to throw offshore after gouging the pristine estuaries of Beaufort Inlet to unnatural depths to accommodate commercial shipping that will never arrive. Thank you Cap’n Jim. Mark Twain would be proud of you. – Joe Exum


Emerald Isle gets sandbag extension

Emerald Isle gets OK on sandbag extension

Commission votes protective sandbags can stay at Emerald Isle (AP)

Coastal regulators nix proposal to keep sandbags in place indefinitely

Regulators to decide fate of beach sand bags

More than 600 turn out to hear about looming threat to beach access

Sen. Basnight seeks congressional help on beach driving (AP)

Arm of law might reach sand castles


Saving beach project is goal

Birds and beaches

The Outer Banks way

Beach project comes to a halt
Topsail Voice by Connie Pletl (3/26/08)
N. TOPSAIL BEACH – Last week, the board of aldermen voted against paying for the remaining work that would take the town to the final stages of the permitting process needed for beach nourishment. Without permits, a proposed beach project that was slated to begin as early as January 2009 -- less that a year away -- cannot take place. A motion by Alderman Daniel Tuman to approve the $88,600 expenditure requested by the town’s engineering firm, Coastal Planning & Engineering, failed 3-2, with Alderman Richard Peters voting with Tuman. Aldermen Richard Farley, Larry Hardison and Robert Swantek voted against the funding. “We basically killed beach nourishment for the CBRA (Coastal Barrier Resource Act) zone in this town,” said Tuman after the vote. “Three aldermen basically said, ‘CBRA zone people, take a hike.’” The vote took place at a meeting on Wednesday, March 19, that had been scheduled as a joint workshop between the board of aldermen and the town’s beach nourishment committee. However, in a vote at the town meeting March 6, Farley, Hardison and Swantek voted to fire the entire beach nourishment committee. Wednesday’s workshop consisted of CP&E representatives reiterating the proposed five stage beach nourishment plan and requesting the additional funding. Interim Town Manager Thomas Taylor explained that the board had essentially already approved the money in last year’s budget. He told the board that they had approved up to $400,000 last April but that CP&E representatives only requested only $311,400 at the time. CP&E Engineer Tom Jarrett said that in August the project plan took a different direction. Instead of one main project, it was divided into five phases, something that cost additional money and man hours. “We were told the direction the town was going in was a phased approach,” said Jarrett. “It’s not a simple change to a document,” he added. Farley questioned who had given CP&E the authorization to move to a phased plan, to which Jarrett responded that the firm did so at the behest of former town manager Bradley Smith. Farley said he did not recall the board being consulted or authorizing the move but Taylor, reading the minutes of the August 2007 town meeting, assured him that a presentation had been made to the board by CP&E about the phases at that time. The August 2007 minutes also state, “Aldermen Farley, Tuman and Peters all remarked that the presentation by CP&E was very good and brought them up to date.” When asked why the additional funding was being brought up at this time, CP&E representatives explained that they did what work they could until the money ran out and then waited until the new town board was seated before coming forward with the request. “We did everything we possibly could up to that $311,000. That’s where we are today,” said CP&E’s Ken Wilson. Taylor recommended the board approve the additional funding, noting that the town has already spent $1.6 million on the project. Later during the meeting, after the funding vote had failed, a public forum was held with the majority of people speaking out against the board’s actions. One man asked how many people present wanted beach nourishment. A large majority of those in the audience raised their hands. Lennie DeNittis said if the town is not getting beach nourishment that the people should get a refund on their property taxes and perhaps the town should unincorporate. “Why not disband the town and turn it back over to the county?” he said. Mike Yawn said that he thought that the town should not move forward on permitting for beach nourishment until the people had a chance to vote on it. “I can tell you there’s a lot of people in this town who do not want beach nourishment,” said Yawn. On Friday, Mayor Donald Martin said he was startled by the results of Wednesday’s vote. “I didn’t sleep that night,” Mayor Martin said. Despite the vote against funding, Mayor Martin said he thought the project could survive. “I don’t think it’s a dead issue,” he said. Mayor Martin noted that he did not think it was too late to get the project back on schedule if something could be worked out with CP&E. “We have to get CP&E back, we have no choice if we want beach nourishment,” he said. The mayor suggested a three phase plan might be better suited for the town -- with a project for New River Inlet and the north end of the island being phase one, the southern area that is slated as part of a future federal project as phase two and everything in between as phase three. He said that the first step is getting the condemned homes at the north end removed, something he is currently working on. Once they are removed, he said the area would be ready for sand to be placed on the beach.

Nourish funds dry again
Tideland News Report (3/26/08)
The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association and the Water Resources Coalition have expressed disappointment and concern over President Bush’s budget proposal for the 2009 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program. According to Harry Simmons, president of the ASBPA, the budget proposes drastic spending cuts for projects that will protect coastal communities from natural disasters and coastal erosion. “Although the President pledged only two years ago to never let a disaster similar to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita happen again, with this budget he is setting up America for more such disasters,” he said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the primary federal agency to construct and maintain coastal flood control projects, will face a budget cut of more than 15 percent in the proposed budget. The majority of that comes from accounts that fund projects and studies designed to limit the impact of future disasters. According to information provided by the ASBPA, thirty-nine percent of funding has been cut from the Construction General account and seventy six percent was cut from the General Investigations account. “This is just the president’s proposal, but that just means congress will have to do some heavy lifting to get the numbers where they need to be,” he said. Simmons added that most likely the lawmakers would pass another continuing resolution for FY 09, which begins in October 2008. “We’re still several months away from knowing what be getting,” he said. Senator Elizabeth Dole works every year to secure funding for North Carolina dredging and beach nourishment programs, according to her press secretary Amy Auth. “Since assuming office, she has secured over $270 million for North Carolina beach re-nourishment and dredging.” Dole said in a statement that she would work to secure the important funding. “Having recently met with our coastal leaders, I am aware that these communities are concerned about federal funding for beach re-nourishment and dredging,” she said. “It is important to our coastal economy, the safety of our communities and the environment that we make every effort to maintain our waterways and protect our coastlines, and I will work to secure this much-needed funding for our state.”

Sandbag extension sought
by Shannon Kemp, special to Tideland News (3/26/08)
Emerald Isle is working on a couple of projects aimed at protecting town property. The first project, completed last week, pushed sand from lower parts of the beach near the Channel Drive walkway up toward the dunes, bolstering the area and adding additional protection to the oceanfront homes. The second is an effort to get a variance from the state to continue to use sandbags in front of homes near The Point’s vehicle access to protect them from the eroding shoreline. As for the dune project, bulldozers pushed the sand up to the dunes in an area that, according to Town Manager Frank Rush, is currently recovering from past erosion and is seeing significant sand accretion. “We had erosion back last summer but that area continues to improve,” Rush said. The permit for the two-day project was received last fall and L.B. Page, a Cape Carteret site development and grading contractor, finished the project March 18. “We are only allowed to do (the bulldozing) between Nov. 15 and March 31 because of turtle nesting season,” said Rush. “We were waiting for accretion to continue to build up. We waited as long as possible in order to have more sand to push up. “There’s nothing urgent … only the permit wouldn’t allow us to do it after March 31.” Greg “Rudi” Rudolph, Carteret County Shore Protection manager, said the project bolstered the dunes in the area. The front part of the dunes were “sort of weak so the town bulldozed sand from the lower part of the beach up to the dunes making a new dune. “It’s like going to the beach at low tide and pushing sand up to create a better dune. This is different than trucking in sand. This is using sand already existing on the beach,” Rudolph said. Rush called the project a precautionary measure. Sand dunes are one of the beaches’ defenses against storms. For the other project, the town is looking to receive a variance from the N.C. Coastal Resource Commission for a sandbag extension. The panel will hear the Emerald Isle Friday at its meeting in Kill Devil Hills. The sandbags were put in place in the area in the late 1990s or early 2000s, according to Rush. Because sandbags that are used to protect homes have a two-year life span the town received a sandbag extension around 2005. Then in 2005 when a project to relocate the Bogue Inlet Channel 3,500 feet to the west was completed, those sandbags were covered with sand and had vegetation growing on them – one of the pluses of the project. There was no need to remove the sandbags at that point, Rush said. However, recent erosion has uncovered some of the sandbags and technically when sandbags are uncovered they need to be removed. “We are asking for a variance because we still think that area is going to improve,” Rush said. He said the town has seen great success with the nourishment of 4.5 miles of beach, but there has been some setbacks. Still, the engineers expected a four- to six-year period for all the adjustments in the channel project to stabilize. “We are only at year three right now,” Rush said. “We are asking for the extension to allow for that full four- to six-year period to take place.” The request is going before the CRC Friday as well. “We would hate to see those sandbags taken out and lose homes when we think it’s going to get better,” Rush said.
Even the N.C. Coastal Federation doesn’t want to see those homes fall into the ocean, but Frank Tursi, Coastal Federation Coastkeeper, offers a different point of view on the sandbags. “It’s pretty clear what’s going on out there,” Tursi said. “There are now probably more houses threatened than there were before they started engineering the inlet.” Normally sandbags have a time limit and they need to come out once the time is up, according to Tursi. “They are put in for emergency purposes and they need to be removed when the emergency is done,” he said. “But it’s clear that those houses are still threatened. “We certainly wouldn’t demand that those sandbags be removed because there would be several houses that would be in the water at high tide. We certainly wouldn’t want to put people’s property in immediate risk … I would think that we (the Coastal Federation) aren’t such a mean-spirited organization that we would want to see peoples houses fall into the ocean. “It just goes to show that you cannot clearly predict what will happen when you start moving inlets and channels.” Tursi said he doesn’t think the Coastal Federation has a serious problem with the town receiving a variance for the sandbag extension, “but we don’t want to see it become an open-ended thing.” If the town does not get an extension on the sandbags, Rush said the town is contemplating other ways to put sand at the area near the Point’s vehicle access and the four adjacent homes. The area is seeing some natural accretion and movement of sand down the east side of the Point, according to Rush. He hopes that will continue. If the area does not fix itself naturally, the town is working on permit modifications to the Bogue Inlet Channel relocation project in order to dredge some sand out of the new channel and place it on the area in need. The town may also work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get sand dredged from its Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway dredging project. If that isn’t enough, the town may try to place sand dredged from the access channel to Hammocks Beach State Park at the Point. But due to the permitting process, dredging before next winter is unlikely. Despite all this, Rush said the problems the now faces in the area are much easier to deal with than prior to the 2005 channel relocation project. “The whole inlet channel was banging up against the side of Emerald Isle,” he said. “That area used to be 25 feet deep. Now, since the main channel was moved 3,500 feet to the west, we don’t have that pressure there any more.” He said the area is now between 1- to 5-feet deep depending on where you’re located. “Five feet is a lot easer to solve than 25,” Rush said. “I still think it will work itself out in the end.”

North Topsail Beach should save its beach
Topsail Voice Editorial (3/26/08)
North Topsail Beach Board of Aldermen have apparently decided to cast hundreds of thousands of dollars in property values and $1.6 million in invested studies and permitting work for beach nourishment into the sea. In a surprise vote last week the North Topsail Beach Board of Aldermen voted not to approve approximately $88,000 in additional funding to Coastal Planning and Engineering (CP&E) to conclude final permitting for a beach nourishment project in the central and northern sections of town. Voting to stop all action were aldermen Richard Farley, Larry Hardison and Robert Swantek. Aldermen Dan Tuman and Richard Peters voted to approve the funding. At best the board’s decision will delay the project. At worst, it will kill any current chance to take remedial action to save hundreds of thousand of dollars in real estate and homes. Either way, the vote threatens the security of beachfront properties along central and northern section of the town where erosion has been most prevalent. And in the process, the vote threatens the credibility the town has with current and future residents and tax payers. CP&E, the engineering firm contracted to represent the town’s efforts to the US Army Corps of Engineers and other state and federal agencies, had completed much of the permitting process. All that is outstanding is final permit approvals which was to be funded by an already budgeted $88,600. Under the current schedule, had the permitting process been funded, beach nourishment for the central and northern portions of the beach was to begin as early as January 2009. Last week’s vote of the board puts the original start date in question creating either a scenario in which the start date is delayed or the entire permitting process must begin anew. At this time there are hundreds of homes, including condominiums, at the north end of the town threatened by erosion. The owners of those properties do not have time to wait for the board members to grandstand or squabble. These property owners and taxpayers face a crisis requiring the town to work as quickly and efficiently as possible to save their homes and properties. Alderman Farley has said that the loss of property tax revenue for the town, if some of the most threatened oceanfront homes are lost, does not equate to the price tag of a beach nourishment project. That may be true but again there is more at stake than the loss of tax revenue -- a loss of credibility. The properties currently in jeopardy along with other properties that may be threatened should nourishment action stop all together, are owned by taxpayers. These taxpayers have purchased properties approved by the town’s planning board and building inspectors. Further, they have paid taxes believing that they met all the criteria for town support and protection. Ironically, these same taxpayers have contributed to an ongoing nourishment project in the 3.85 miles of the southern section of town and the proposed private project for the rest of the town. Failure by the town to provide these services and protection for the property owners in the area designated by the CP&E contract is tantamount to abandonment after payment has been received. This is a Big Credibility problem for the town board and the town residents and could potentially lead to expensive legal action by the impacted property owners. In a beach town the beach is just as much a part of the infrastructure as the roads, utilities and water and sewer service. The town needs to protect its infrastructure. If the town wishes to cease support of the infrastructure thereby making these homes unlivable, then the town should compensate the property owners at fair market value. Otherwise, the town needs to initiate action to protect all of its residents and taxpayers.


NTB board nixes 2 beach projects

Commissioner Judge challenges groups to drop the lawsuit and negotiate

Islanders have lots to say to negotiated rulemaking committee members

About 1,500 rally to save off-road-vehicle privileges

Please Help Us!!! A message in the sand is a plea for continued beach access

Access no. 33 to reopen

Onslow would get warning of tsunami


Emerald Isle beats the clock on dune work

Not sitting idle: N.C. beach drivers keep up the fight

Attorneys for Dare, Hyde, and CHAPA weigh in on injunction request

Another celebration of beach access planned for Cape Point

Efforts beat beach vitex

A break for birds

Storm takes its toll on The Point; EI hopes for long-term benefits
Carteret County News Times by Shannon Kemp (3/19/08)
EMERALD ISLE — Trying to predict where, when, how and why erosion will occur is like trying to find a needle in a haystack – near impossible unless you sit on it. Just look at The Point, the farthest western part of Emerald Isle. In an interview Tuesday with Town Manager Frank Rush, an overnight storm system on March 7-8 caused some erosion of the spit at The Point. “There had been a weak spot in the spit,” Mr. Rush said. “The oceanfront caused that to break through (during the storm) and there is now some of the old Coast Guard channel coming through.” Now, the spit at The Point is an island separated from Emerald Isle. Still, it’s tricky to predict what erosion will do. In 2005 several houses at The Point were in danger of the encroaching ocean, waves literally at their doorstep. A project to move the Bogue Inlet west reversed the erosion problem and The Point saw a huge increase of sand, saving the houses at The Point. However, erosion was then seen farther east down the shoreline, which has since been filling back in with sand in a westward direction, seemingly correcting itself. According to Mr. Rush, the engineers who created the channel relocation project predicted it would take four to six years before the area saw the full benefits of the channel adjustment. Those benefits included the accretion of sand at The Point where houses had been in jeopardy. “We still think the long-term prognosis is good,” Mr. Rush said. He explained there has been sand accreting near The Point, between Channel Drive and The Point’s vehicle access, which is good. “The oceanfront accretion is curving around, which is good,” he said. “Of course we are disappointed with the erosion at The Point but we continue to believe the long-term prognosis is good. This is just a short-term issue … although we don’t want to down play it, I don’t think it (the most recent erosion) changes the long-term prognosis in that area.” Besides, the problems the area is facing now are minor compared to the problems the in 2005 before the Bogue Inlet channel relocation, according to Mr. Rush. But there are others who are not so optimistic. Todd Miller, director of the N.C. Coastal Federation, an environmental group based in Ocean, said in an interview Tuesday, with the erosion that’s taken place The Point is pretty much back to the same place it had been before the project was done to relocate the channel. Mr. Miller feels the predictions made about The Point by the inlet relocation project engineers have not occurred. He said the same houses that were in danger before the project “are now basically back on the edge again.” To Mr. Miller, it’s just part of the natural process. “It’s just the natural process of inlets, and it’s very hard to predict what’s going to happen in the future. When the project was undertaken, there were a number of predictions that the end of the island would accrete with more sand, which happened in the beginning but now a number of things have shifted around, which is all part of the natural process,” he explained. He said the natural processes continue to prove “it’s virtually impossible to predict what will happen with the manipulation of the system,” referring to the natural movement of sand. However, he said even with that in mind, the future of the sand at The Point is still unclear. “It (the sand) could grow back out or it could keep eroding. My crystal ball is as clear as anybody else’s,” he said. Storms are one natural phenomenon that seems to play a big part in that prediction. The occurrence of storms can have a profound impact on the erosion and people know just as much about predicting storms as they do erosion. “We have a hard time knowing when and how severe they’re going to be,” Mr. Miller said. It was not predicted that the storm on March 7-8 would cause the Coast Guard channel to break through the spit at The Point, but regardless of the new problem, Mr. Rush said the town is not giving up on The Point. Given the full four- to six-year period, Mr. Rush is hoping things in the area will turn out well. “If not, we are figuring out ways to put more sand there,” he said.

NTB board plays politics with sand
Topsail Voice Editorial (3/19/08)
One has to question the North Topsail Beach Board of Aldermen’s motives in essentially firing the entire beach nourishment committee during the board’s monthly meeting. Three of the aldermen, Larry Hardison, Richard Farley and Robert Swantek, voted for a resolution dissolving the current membership of the committee, apparently with the blessing of Mayor Don Martin. Aldermen Daniel Tuman and Richard Peters opposed the resolution. The resolution states in part that the committee had presented no acceptable plan to the town board and had not gained the full confidence of the board and the citizens. It also states that other citizens had expressed interest in exploring alternative funding and management of the beachfront. Contrary to the absence of a plan, the beach nourishment committee had in fact kept the board informed of the progress of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the private engineering firm hired to work on the town’s beaches. Further, the committee had, prior to its dismissal, provided options and schedules for the town to act upon. Since the town board lacked confidence in the members of the beach nourishment committee, additional members could and should have been added to the liking of the town board. Instead, as in the proverbial baby and bath water, the board voted to disband a committee of hard working diligent volunteers basically voiding the knowledge and hard work of the committee members. In a recent meeting beach committee chairman Becky Bowman told the town board an expanded membership was desired. She even proposed a change in the town’s bylaws to provide a seat for a town alderman. The purpose of this change was to provide the beach committee a better understanding the board’s positions regarding beach nourishment. Instead of adding new members, the board disbanded the entire board thereby tossing the “baby out with the bathwater.” Farley and Hardison and their supporters have been known to be critical of beach nourishment. Farley’s history of antagonism toward the beach nourishment committee can be traced back before his first election as a town alderman in 2003 when he was appointed to the beach committee. The committee then removed Farley until he was reinstatement after fighting the expulsion. Hardison also has expressed angst with the committee and resigned as board liaison to the committee last year. Some of the supporters of Farley, Swantek and Hardison went so far as to invite Dr. Orrin Pilkey, an internationally acclaimed opponent of beach nourishment, to speak at the town hall. While this was arguably done to provide an alternative viewpoint, it also resulted in diminishing and undermining the effort of the volunteers on the beach nourishment committee. While Swantek and Mayor Martin have not had many dealings with the beach committee, they did unite with Farley during last fall’s election. The action by these town board members appears to be a political vendetta. And while we can understand the desire to put their friends in political patronage jobs, we hope the board is truly seeking a solution to the town’s growing beach erosion. Mayor Martin has said he will be in charge of building a new beach nourishment committee. However, the mayor must make sure that his appointments are fair and do not reek of cronyism. Time and money for sensible long term solutions is fast running out. Action is needed to take advantage of the work and money already spent on beach nourishment. Any delay will not only mean the loss of threatened homes and businesses but the subsequent loss in the ad valorem tax revenues that the town depends upon for its operation.

Town needs to get beach nourishment up and running
Topsail Voice Letter to the Editor (3/19/08)
The record needs to be set straight concerning the March 6, North Topsail Beach (NTB) Board of Aldermen’s actions concerning the Beach Preservation Committee (BPC). I was a volunteer member of the NTB Beach Preservation Committee up until March 6 of this year having served since early 2002. Over this period, I spent countless hours attending meetings, seminars, and conferences regarding BP. I devoted myself to the study of beach nourishment and erosion for NTB in order to be a knowledgeable advocate for the town and the whole of Topsail Island. The BPC elected me chairperson on Jan. 23 of this year. The town’s CBRS inlet project is set to start construction sometime in 2009. At this first meeting, the committee realized that now is the time to start studying options for funding the project. Since our committee had received no guidance regarding the direction the aldermen might be considering or how they wished to proceed with the CBRS area project, we asked them at their Feb. 7 meeting for counsel. Our committee is made up of volunteers. None are elected officials charged with the responsibility of the town’s finances. We asked our aldermen if the project would proceed in phases and if they wished our committee to look at options for funding the project. The aldermen decided to set up a special joint meeting with the BPC to discuss these issues. The committee proceeded to make plans for the joint meeting. On March 6, before the joint meeting could be held, at the second meeting of the newly sworn aldermen, a resolution was submitted by Mayor Pro-tem Larry Hardison to dissolve the BPC membership. It passed with three aldermen -- Hardison, Richard Farley and Robert Swantek -- voting for it. It cited amongst other accusations, “no acceptable plan.” I would specifically charge the citizens of NTB to question the $2,500,000 plus of our tax revenues paid to Coastal Planning & Engineering for their “unacceptable” plan, each and every dollar approved by the board of aldermen. Likewise, the resolution seemed to ignore the fact that there has also been, since 2001, a US Army Corps of Engineer project done in conjunction with Surf City to nourish the southern 3.85 miles of the town. The dissolved committee, along with Surf City ’s beach nourishment committee, have nurtured this project to the point where “a light can be seen in the end of the tunnel” for construction to start sometime in the not too distant future. With this resolution, the town’s caretakers have made a mess of our beach nourishment program. It is in virtual freefall. I urge our aldermen to put aside their post election anger toward political rivals. This has no place in the governance of a town. The town needs to get beach nourishment back up and running again as quickly as possible. Erosion is eating away our beach. The northern one-third of our town is already experiencing severe erosion with homes and condominiums undermined. The inlet project must begin as soon as possible to prevent further destruction of our town. I urge everyone, as will I, to attend all public meetings to insure that our aldermen fulfill their elected leadership responsibilities to preserve our most precious resource in a manner consistent with the most modern engineering principals. - Becky Bowman, N. Topsail Beach


Park Service responds to request for injunction to close beaches

Wrightsville access to remain open

Wrightsville Beach to buy controversial beach access

Sandbags draw citations (SC)

Proposed Navy sonar range could harm whales


The Impending Coastal Crisis

Study of Morris Is., Folly's tip finished

Negotiated Rulemaking Committee will meet in Avon March 18-19


Navy says sonar training isn't a threat to marine life

Concerns about sonar training aired

Beach committee fired
Topsail Voice by Connie Pletl (3/12/08)
N. TOPSAIL BEACH – A heated discussion ensued at the monthly town meeting last Thursday night before the board of aldermen voted 3-2 to disband the current beach nourishment committee. Mayor Pro-tem Larry Hardison made the motion to approve the “Resolution for the Reclamation and Restoration of the Beach Nourishment Committee of the Town of North Topsail Beach.” Alderman Robert Swantek seconded the motion and Alderman Richard Farley also voted for it. Aldermen Dan Tuman and Richard Peters voted against the resolution. In speaking against the resolution, Tuman said it was “harshly worded, monstrous in its child-like effrontery” and that it was insulting to town volunteers and citizens. He backed the beach nourishment committee, saying they had tracked and monitored the work of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the town’s privately contracted firm, Coastal Planning and Engineering, kept the board of aldermen informed of the progress and related what the aldermen’s next steps were throughout the process. Tuman accused the aldermen who voted for the resolution of dissolving the committee before a planned joint meeting between the committee and the aldermen where implementation of a beach project was to be discussed. “This resolution cancels this meeting and dodges the town’s, this board’s, and this mayor’s responsibility for work never performed and places the blame for the town’s ineptitude and incompetence on the beach committee,” said Tuman. “I am particularly disappointed by our mayor’s lack of leadership by failing to recognize that this resolution is mean spirited and would not be on tonight’s agenda but for his personal support of it,” he added. Tuman went on to say that while some of the aldermen claim to support beach nourishment, he suspects that is not true and they are just giving lip service and he has little confidence in the board and the mayor in addressing beach nourishment efforts. Tuman did apologize for the tone of his criticism but he stood by his assertions. “…the ad hominem attack on the collective membership of the beach nourishment committee is unfair, insulting and unjust. I ask that this new board just grow up and to abandon this senseless reign of terror,” said Tuman. Farley responded to the comments by saying that if board members don’t agree with what Tuman says, he verbally attacks them. “This is just the usual Dan Tuman comments,” said Farley. Farley and Hardison both disagreed with Tuman and said that the town had no beach nourishment plan, to which many citizens in the audience responded by booing. Hardison explained that the resolution did not dissolve the beach committee but instead was replacing its membership. “The purpose of this resolution is to put in place a new beach management team,” said Hardison. “This is a new effort to broaden membership and move in a new direction for shoreline management.” He said that the time the current committee has spent on beach nourishment issues was appreciated but that “no acceptable plan has been presented to the board for discussion or approval” and that the “town’s constituency is more divided on beach nourishment now than before.” Hardison said that the current committee did not take into account the failed beach bond referendum from November 2006. “There have been ample opportunities for the current committee to acknowledge the results of the referendum and reconnect with the voting citizens for input and support, yet there has been no serious effort made to make this community whole again,” he said. Hardison also said he would like to see a cross section of people, such as a scientist and representatives from the state, county, community -- oceanfront and non-oceanfront -- on the new committee. He said he would like the committee to consist of 12-16 members. Peters said Hardison might have noble objectives but said he wondered if there would be enough people who would be willing to volunteer. Swantek said if people want beach nourishment they should volunteer to be on the committee. Before the vote, former beach committee chairman Becky Bowman urged the aldermen not to approve the referendum. “Don’t do it. It will be an embarrassment to the town,” she said. During the open forum after the vote Bowman said she would not seek a place on the new committee. Mayor Donald Martin said he would be behind starting up a new beach nourishment committee.

Sonar critics raise points
Carteret County by Mark Hibbs (3/12/08)
MOREHEAD CITY — Jeffrey Matthews, a commercial fisherman from Carteret County , worries the Navy’s continued use of sonar during offshore training exercises will hurt marine life. “This area is a major nursery for fisheries,” he said Tuesday during the Navy’s public hearing on the matter at the Crystal Coast Civic Center , the third of six planned at various East Coast locations. Mr. Matthews and others who spoke called for more research on the effects of sonar use offshore. The Navy’s Cherry Point Range Complex and Virginia Capes Range Complex off the Carolina-Virginia coast are used for a variety of training exercises, including sonar, gunnery, bombing, missile and torpedo firings, underwater mine hunting and detonation and other operations. Navy officials said sailors must use sonar to train and the offshore waters here have been used for that purpose for more than 40 years. The Navy wants to continue but is proposing to study ways to minimize sonar’s effects on the environment and natural resources. Jene Nissen, an environmental acoustics analyst with U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk , Va. , said the Navy plans to spend nearly $18 million on research related to the effects of acoustics on marine biology. He said that amount equals about 70 percent of all U.S. marine research and about half the world’s. The hearings are intended to gather public comment on the Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training (AFAST) draft environmental impact statement and draft overseas environmental impact statement filed in February. Public comments are sought to help define what issues should be addressed in the final versions of the environmental documents. Sonar (sound navigation and ranging) uses sound waves to pinpoint submerged objects such as submarines and undersea mines. Passive sonar uses underwater microphones to detect the presence of an object. Active sonar involves generating pulses of energy in the mid- and high-frequency ranges and listening to determine an object’s range, distance and movement. The pulse can be either be a tone or “ping” or from a small explosive charge. The Navy said active sonar is the only way to detect both the direction and distance of hostile submarines, which could threaten the U.S. coast or military vessels. The draft environmental documents evaluate the potential impacts of four alternatives: designating fixed, active sonar areas available for use year-round; designating fixed areas for seasonal use; a combination of one of the first two alternatives with designated “areas of increased awareness” of sensitive habitats where active sonar would not be conducted; or taking no action except for continuing with the current training in and around present Navy operating areas. Under the “No Action Alternative,” which is the Navy’s preferred alternative, the Navy would not designate active sonar areas or areas of increased awareness. Data from Navy research will be included in an application to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for a letter of authorization to “harass” endangered species and sea turtles. U.S. Fleet Forces Command environmental spokesman Jim Brantley said East Coast sailors train about 22 days each quarter and active sonar is used less than 5 percent of that time, but its use is imperative for preparedness. “Sonar is more of an art than a science,” Mr. Brantley said, but he acknowledged research has shown sonar does affect certain species. “Analysis shows that we’re going to have a behavioral effect on marine mammals,” Mr. Nissen said, adding that the effects range but typically do not include mortality or injury. Mr. Nissen said many of the impacts on marine life associated with sonar, including whale and dolphin strandings, usually have other contributing factors, such as weather and currents. “We do everything we can to make sure those confluences of conditions don’t occur,” Mr. Nissen said. The Navy says it is employing various methods to avoid impacting marine life. Trained lookouts are posted to watch for the presence of whales or other animals in training areas. Although fewer than 10 citizens stood to speak during the public hearing, most expressed apprehension. Katie Hall, a representative from the office of Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, read a statement of the senator’s “deep concerns” over potential environmental impacts with no economic benefits for citizens. The statement referred to “significant, lasting harm” to the coastal ecology and said the Navy’s environmental impact statement had “failed to alleviate” those concerns. “He (Sen. Basnight) is very aware that there’s a lot more scientific research that needs to be done,” Ms. Hall told The News-Times. Michelle Nowlin, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Chapel Hill office, said the training is part of a “culmination of a number of different things” impacting the ecology. The center is an environmental organization headquartered in the South that uses the law to conserve clean water, healthy air, wild lands and livable communities. Ms. Nowlin said the Navy’s preferred alternative poses the greatest risk of environmental impact because there are no provisions to avoid and exclude sensitive areas in the training ranges. Citizens expect the military to protect them, she said. “But we also expect these armed forces to protect our natural resources,” she said. Dr. Joseph Luczkovich, a biology professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, said the Navy did a better job on this environmental document as compared to earlier studies. “The Navy deserves some credit for doing a better job in this attempt,” he said, adding more research was needed on the effects of mid-frequency sonar on fish. “Fish do respond to mid-frequency sound – specifically to predators,” Dr. Luczkovich said. Jack Spruill of the PenderWatch and Conservancy, an environmental organization based in Hampstead in Pender County called for the Navy to post on the Internet comment letters received at hearings related to the Navy’s undersea warfare training range (USWTR) plans because they included many comments related to sonar and species harassment.
“Further, some of these USWTR comment letters were highly scientific in nature,” Mr. Spruill said. Joel Bell, a marine biologist who gathers environmental data for the Navy USWTR, was on hand at the Tuesday hearing. Mr. Bell said the Navy is taking a proactive approach to environmental concerns. He said the research he is involved with could have applications in sonar training and more than $1 million is being spent on research in this area each year. “The monitoring component will continue to grow,” Mr. Bell said.
Three more hearings are planned:
• Mount Pleasant , S.C. – Thursday, Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina , Atlantic Ballroom, 20 Patriots Point Road .
• Jacksonville , Fla. – Tuesday, Florida Community College at Jacksonville , Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts: Lakeside Conference Room, 11901 Beach Blvd.
• Panama City , Fla. – March 19, Florida State University , Panama City campus, auditorium, 4750 Collegiate Drive .
Equal weight will be given to both oral and written statements, according to the Navy.
Written comments may be mailed or faxed to Naval Command, Atlantic Division, Attention: Code EV22 (Atlantic Fleet Sonar Project Manager), 6506 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, Va. 23508-1278, fax: (888) 875-6781.
The AFAST draft documents are also available online at http://afasteis.gcsaic.com. A compact disc with an electronic copy will be made available upon request. A copy is also available for public review at the Carteret County Public Library, 210 Turner St. in Beaufort.
All written comments must be postmarked by March 31 to ensure they become part of the official record.

Sonar questions need some answers
Tideland News Editorial (3/12/08)
As U.S. Navy official works on a draft environmental impact statement for a proposal to expand the Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training, it is imperative that the statement includes as many facts as possible. The Navy, which is clearly leaning toward locating the underwater training facility just a few miles off the coast of Onslow County, needs to show that site is the best for all concerned, and not just due to the fact that it is close to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and, therefore, the least expensive. This is not the first time the Navy has sought comment on the proposal. Following the first round of comment gathering in 2006, the Navy was asked to go back and do a better job on gathering facts. Which is a good idea, because while some scientists do say there is room for debate on how the training will affect marine life, other scientists have no doubt that sonar training alters the marine landscape. Strandings of sea mammals do seem to coincide with sonar training. The stranding and death of 34 whales on the North Carolina Outer Banks in January 2006 was believed by some scientists to have been caused by sonar training. Training off the coast of Hawaii in 2004 is believed to have driven 200 melon-headed whales into the shallows. And there are many species of protected and endangered sea mammals – right, humpback and sperm whales, dolphins and sea turtles – that migrate through the area that the Navy appears most interested in using. Perhaps more important to local interests is the fact that this type of training – where a vessel uses Sound Navigation and Ranging (sonar) to detect other vessels or objects – could affect finfish by driving them away. It could cause that area to be devoid of finfish. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the potential for debris. What items will be left on – or allowed to fall to – the ocean floor? Will there be hazardous materials? We must know more about these potential problems before we can support the Navy’s plan to locate a facility in Onslow Bay that would be in use up to 161 days a year. Perhaps there are other sites better suited for the training. In any case, the draft EIS should be all about determining facts, not just paying lip service to the Navy’s first choice of sites.

Driving on the beach part of coastal heritage
Topsail Voice Letter to the Editor (3/12/08)
Stop driving on the beach? That statement stops me in my tracks. I grew up on the Outer Banks and say so very proudly. Growing up there made me who I am today. The serene beaches are the background to the majority of my childhood memories. Although I considered the Outer Banks to be an amazing place to grow up, there are only a few select things that are age appropriate for teenagers. One of which is being petitioned in court to be taken away. Two environmental groups, the National Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife, filed a motion Feb. 20 requesting a preliminary injunction against beach driving at sensitive bird breeding and nesting areas in Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Bodie Island Spit, Cape Point and South Beach , Hatteras Spit, North Ocracoke and South Ocracoke . This motion hit home for me because I spent many days and nights driving out onto the beaches with my friends. This was a safe place for teens to go “be teens” without getting into trouble. And believe me, this was not an unchaperoned area. The National Parks Service monitored us very well to make sure that we were not doing anything illegal or unsafe. I also spent a great deal of my teen years on the back of a horse, riding down that same beach. Something else that will be outlawed if the motion goes through on April 3, 2008. This is heartbreaking because it is one of the most beautiful and natural places to ride in North Carolina. Many people, including myself, travel hours to ride their horses in the breakers of the Atlantic Ocean. I feel very privileged to have grown up the way I did. Driving and horseback riding on the beaches gives many teenagers something to do aside from get into trouble. (And believe me, we had plenty of opportunities.) But if this motion is approved in Raleigh, not only will it hurt the locals that enjoy driving or riding on the beach, but it will hurt tourism. I have read plenty of articles mentioning surf-fisherman who drive down to Hatteras on the weekends. If those fishermen can’t get out onto the beaches, they are just going to stay home. They aren’t going to buy gas, bait, and groceries or eat out in restaurants like they have in the past. That being said -- I was under the impression that the NAS were going forward with this motion because the birds in question were endangered. That is not necessarily the case. Two out of the three breeds in the motion are not endangered. The American Oystercatchers are absolutely not endangered and the coasts of North Carolina are not the only beaches that they breed. The American Oystercatcher can be found breeding in the U.S. Along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts south to Georgia, and in selected localities along the Gulf Coast in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. (Taken directly from the NAS website.) The Seabeach Amaranth is not a native of the North Carolina beaches, however they were artificially transplanted there years ago and they all died. (Which will most likely just happen again.) And the infamous piping plover…I’ve heard so much about this bird that you’d think it only bred on Hatteras Island . Again, not so. Atlantic coast piping plovers breed on coastal beaches from Newfoundland and Southeastern Quebec all the way down to North Carolina . (i.e.: they have thousands of miles to breed on- literally, thousands.) So, what is next? Moving Hwy 12 for a seagull to work on building its family? Please. Furthermore, Senator Marc Basnight, can’t you help us out! Eden Braunstein - Brooklyn , NY, Formerly Eden Spencer of Manteo , NC


Navy has some convincing to do

NTB dismisses beach committee

Rally revs up Outer Banks beach driving debate

Several hundred people gather at Cape Point to celebrate beach access

Beach escarpment repairs to begin in mid-March

Beach to pay its share of inlet costs

Read a transcript of Judge Terrence Boyle’s scheduling conference on ORV issues

Local beach representatives visit elected officials in DC
Topsail Voice by Connie Pletl (3/5/08)
WASHINGTON , DC – Finding federal funding for beach preservation projects might not be an easy task but local representatives are giving it a try. “They all tell us that there are only limited funds available,” said Richard Peters, after talking to several elected officials in Washington , DC . Peters is the chairman of the Topsail Island Shoreline Protection Committee and an alderman from North Topsail Beach . He was among those from coastal North Carolina who converged on the capital last week to attend the 2008 Coastal Summit of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Committee. With Peters, local representatives Becky Bowman, chairman of the North Topsail Beach Preservation Committee, and Surf City Beach Nourishment Chairman David Ward also attended the event. The conference took place on Feb. 27-29 and included visits with North Carolina representatives in the House and Senate. Peters said he, Bowman and Ward were able to speak with US Senator Elizabeth Dole, US Senator Richard Burr and state Representative Mike McIntyre. They had intended to also meet with US Congressman Walter Jones but were unable to as he was out on a vote. According to Peters, the elected officials said they were all doing their best to get some funds earmarked for the beaches, and that last year’s $24 million in funding was all obtained through earmarks. This year’s funding is tied up in earmarks as well. That does not exactly help the situation, said Peters, because sometimes earmarks are perceived as pork-barrel spending. “So we’re going against the tide from the get-go,” he said. There might be some funds that could be coming into coastal communities if a bill from Sen. Burr is passed that would allow drilling for natural gas in coastal areas. “The revenue from that would go to the coastal regions,” said Peters, adding that it would also be controversial and not something that would easily be approved. Federal funding is needed on Topsail Island . Just to complete the environmental study for the North Topsail Beach and Surf City joint federal beach nourishment project, $400,000 is required, said Peters. While federal funding might be limited, Peters said he hoped that the visit with the elected officials helped make them aware of Topsail Island ’s plight. He said he took pictures of Topsail Island ’s northern end where the ocean washes under homes because of the severe erosion and showed them to the officials. “Mrs. Dole looked at them and said, ‘These pictures are chilling,’” said Peters. Each official -- as well as the lobbying group for Topsail Island, Marlowe & Company – was given packets containing information about the beach projects and needs of the Topsail Island beaches.


Private property on public trust a problem, but whose?

Towns support shoreline pilot plan

Wild Dunes approves renourishment funding

Many on Outer Banks fear possibility of a ban on off-road vehicles

Dare county to ask judge to reject beach-driving plan from environmental groups

Appeals court rejects sonar waiver for Navy

Parking meters march back into town

Beach in need of public restroom facilities

Carteret, Onslow trio to receive environmental awards

We will wait until next month at least to find out if popular beaches will be closed year-round

Guest column…One spectator’s view of the negotiated rulemaking process


Panel targets better beach management (SC)

NC coastal communities add beach-accessible wheelchairs

Jones, NOAA Awards Honor N.C. Coastal Stewards

Chairs help handicapped enjoy access to the beach
Carteret County News Times (2/22/08)
PINE KNOLL SHORES — Imagine your trip to the beach is confined to a handicap accessible walkway that ends at the top of a sand dune. You never make it down to the water because your wheelchair can’t roll through sand. Until recently Andy Anderson of Beaufort, who has Parkinson’s disease, knew how this felt – the impossibility of moving his motorized wheelchair across the sand. Add his weight to that of the chair and it’s nearly 400 pounds, enough to sink the wheels in the sand. But with the use of a specialized beach wheelchair, he was able to enjoy the sand and ocean with his wife Marlene Anderson for the first time Tuesday since being wheelchair-confined. “It’s amazing how it works. It’s very light construction … the chair works like a charm,” Mr. Anderson said. “I wouldn’t be able to go to the beach without a chair like this.” The beach wheelchair, with its lightweight design and large bubble-like wheels, makes it easy for those who are wheelchair-bound to enjoy a day on the Crystal Coast. “It’s an amazing design,” Mrs. Anderson said. “The wheels don’t dig into the sand.” The Carteret County Mayors’ Committee for Persons with Disabilities recently compiled a brochure listing handicapped-accessible beach and water accesses in the county. Now it’s added three more of these chairs to Carteret County’s inventory across Bogue Banks. With a $3,000 grant from Carteret Community Foundation the committee bought the chairs and donated one each to Pine Knoll Shores and Atlantic Beach and Fort Macon State Park. The county now has two beach chairs at Atlantic Beach, three at Fort Macon and six in Emerald Isle. Pine Knoll Shores got its first beach wheelchair this week. “We want all our citizens as well as our visitors to enjoy the beach,” Pine Knoll Shores Mayor Joan Lamson said at the town’s public safety building, where she and the others were presented the chairs. Mayor Lamson said the chair will be available at the public safety building and can be taken to either of the town’s two handicap accessible beach accesses. She also said the town has three new beach accesses planned with handicap accessibility all the way to the sand. Atlantic Beach Mayor Trace Cooper said the town has two handicapped-accessible beach accesses but the town is working to make all the accesses in town available to everyone. “In my opinion, there’s no difference between public beach access and a public building. Everyone should be able to use it and enjoy it,” Mayor Cooper said. The wheelchair will be available at the Atlantic Beach Fire Station and can be taken to any of the accesses in town. Fort Macon has its beach wheelchairs at the park ranger’s office. The fort was likely the first place in Carteret County that had beach wheelchairs, according to Park Ranger Jodi Merritt. The facility has had two since 1990, he said. It’s first-come first-served to get a chair, although some try to make reservations because of their popularity. Atlantic Beach Fire Chief Adam Snyder said he gets calls from people out of state to see if the beach wheelchairs will be available when they come down for vacation. But visitors aren’t the only ones excited about using of the beach wheelchairs. “It’s a really neat chair,” said Jack Shell Jr., vice chairman of the Carteret County Mayors Committee, who is also wheelchair-bound. Mr. Shell is excited not only about the chairs but about how the committee was able to get such a great deal on them. He said once the committee received funding, he started looking online for the chairs. He was able to make a deal with Travis Magnuson, general manager of Medical Products Unlimited, Wintergreen, Fla., a company that produces medical supplies and equipment. “(Mr. Magnuson) said he’d give us three for the price of two. After that, everything just took about 45 minutes,” Mr. Shell said.

Group pushing dredging project
Wilmington Star by Shannan Bowen (2/23/08)
The conservancy group pushing for a dredging project in the Lockwood Folly River doesn't have proof that better oyster harvests will result. But they have faith, based on projects completed in other bodies of water that have successfully restored shellfish waters. Bruce Hatter, director of the Southeast Brunswick Conservancy, which is spearheading a project to dredge the river's Eastern Channel, said a lack of supporting data isn't stopping the group from trying to start a project he hopes will improve circulation and oyster harvests in the river. He's met with the Army Corps of Engineers, professors and researchers at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and state environmental agencies and encouraged a partnership between county, towns and state entities that will expedite the project that's been talked about for years. A build-up of sediment is believed to be responsible for slowing the tidal flow of water through the channel to flush out polluted water affecting oysters and other shellfish. The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners approved $45,475 last month to go to the project, and the towns of Holden Beach and Oak Island have agreed to contribute $25,000 each. Hatter said the N.C. Division of Water Resources is expected to provide a grant of $91,450, which will complete the cost estimated for Coastal Science & Engineering of Morehead City to dredge the Eastern Channel. The dredged sand will be deposited on Holden Beach and Oak Island. A second phase includes dredging Galloway Flats, but funding and planning for that project would come later. Hatter said the engineering firm still has a lot of work to do, such as determining how much sand should be removed, finding a disposal site and obtaining permits. If all goes as planned, he said, dredging the Eastern Channel should be completed by early next year and the dredging of Galloway Flats by 2011.
Lack of data
The idea of dredging the Eastern Channel was studied by the Corps of Engineers in 1992 and 1994. The studies stemmed from a belief by local observers that the part of the Lockwood Folly River's pollution problem stemmed from having its path to the ocean rearranged by the Intracoastal Waterway, causing water circulation problems. But the studies concluded dredging a new inlet through the river's Eastern Channel would not yield significant improvements for the river. Another corps effort began in 2000 to study whether dredging the Eastern Channel would significantly improve the oyster harvests in the area.
A preliminary report confirmed the loss of oyster habitat in the river, said Coleman Long, chief of the corps planning and environmental branch in Wilmington. But a federal funding cut eliminated the next planned step, which was to determine what measures might restore the oyster harvests. "We didn't get far enough to make a real conclusion," Long said.
Futch Creek's success
Hatter and the conservancy group hope the dredging project will have the same success as a similar one in Futch Creek, which runs between New Hanover and Pender counties and drains into the Intracoastal Waterway. The project, conducted in the mid-1990s, was backed by the Northeast New Hanover Conservancy, a group similar to Hatter's, and paid for by a combination of funds from the county and state, said Mike Mallin, a UNCW research professor for marine sciences. "It really dramatically improved the flow of water in and out of the creek and caused higher-salinity waters to get upstream, and that helps kill the bacteria," Mallin said. Although dredging helped oysters in Futch Creek, Mallin said it might not work everywhere. He said the same type of project completed in Bald Head Creek, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, didn't achieve the same results. But Hatter insists "doing nothing is not an alternative" for the Lockwood Folly River. "This is something that needs to be done," he said. "If you don't dredge, it will get worse."


Cruisin' the beach again

Groups call for change in Hatteras beach driving plan

Groups ask judge to ban beach driving in parts of Cape Hatteras (AP)

EI wants sandbag extension
Carteret County News Times by Shannon Kemp (2/20/08)
EMERALD ISLE — The town wants an extension on using sandbags in front of five homes between The Point’s vehicle access and Channel Drive in order to relieve erosion pressure that’s building from the ocean. The erosion along that section of oceanside beach appears to be the only drawback so far in a channel relocation project completed by the town along Bogue Inlet in April 2005. The town is seeking a variance from the N.C. Division of Coastal Management to its two-year limit on sandbag use so that the sandbags can continue to protect the town vehicle ramp and the homes east of The Point for another two years. If that doesn’t work, the town will try to get a permit modification to perform touch-up dredging in the new Bogue Inlet Channel and place the sand at The Point. A third option is to request the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to place sand dredged from the Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW) at The Point. The Corps dredges the ICWW every two years. Town Manager Frank Rush said Tuesday the sandbags were installed in 2001 because the old Bogue Inlet Channel was bumping up against the end of the island causing major erosion in front of those five homes. However, in 2005 a project to relocate the Bogue Inlet Channel to the west reversed that erosion problem and the town saw a “tremendous accretion of sand in 2005 at The Point,” Mr. Rush said. “The sandbags at The Point were completely covered with sand and in most cases vegetation was even established,” Mr. Rush said. Recent erosion from the oceanfront due to the relocation project has uncovered sandbags just east of the area between The Point’s vehicle access and Channel Drive . “Technically the sandbags are supposed to be removed when they are uncovered,” the manager said. According to Carteret County Shore Protection Manager Greg “Rudi” Rudolph, the state Division of Coastal Management (DCM) permits the use of sandbags. He said sandbags on residential property basically have a two-year life while sandbags on municipal property have a five-year life. Mr. Rudolph said a lot of the sandbags that exist at The Point are reaching the end of their two-year life span. Therefore, to keep the bags the town must apply for a variance. The Coastal Resources Commission, the policy-making board that enforces the Coastal Area Management Act, will hear the town’s request at its meeting March 27-28 in Kill Devil Hills. Mr. Rush said because the town is seeing continued improvement to the oceanfront erosion problem, which seems to be naturally correcting itself, the town could be granted an extension on the sandbags. He said the erosion occurring now is happening due to different conditions than what happened in 2001. He believes the request is warranted since there is continued improvement east of the area, where sand is continuing to move west filling in the area behind it with sand. And he believes “the erosion problem is temporary and should rectify itself within the next two years.” In addition, Mr. Rush said an environmental study that was conducted in 2005 for the relocation project stated all the adjustments to the shoreline would take four to six years to occur. The project is right at three years. “I think it will repair itself naturally, but if it does not happen naturally the town is pursuing two different strategies to get sand in that area,” Mr. Rush said. The permit modification option would not likely happen until next winter, according to Mr. Rush. Mr. Rudolph elaborated. He said this project “is basically going back into the main navigation channel in Bogue Inlet to do some touch-up dredging … and putting the sand right at The Point shoreline.” The original permit placed sand on the oceanside shoreline up to Lands End Subdivision. He said the issue would be addressed at a March 4 regulatory meeting held by the town at the town community center. The Corps and some state agencies who can talk about permit modification will be present. As for the second strategy of getting the ICWW sand, Mr. Rush said, “We always get the sand from that activity and hopefully we can get that sand in that area.”


Emerald Isle touts sandbags

Environmental groups will seek injunction to stop beach driving

Residents: Restrict access to beaches

County Council gives final OK for IOP beach funding (SC)

Shorebird rookery still eroding

Protected pelican nesting land eroding (AP)


Senator blocks beach funding (SC)

South property owners want to keep sandbags

Wild Dunes sandstorm settled

Shore bird habitat threatened


Dutch to explore new ways to defend coastline

Outer Banks beaches see influx of seals and turtles

Harbor seals are winter visitors to admire from afar

Seal sighting a rarity in Sunset Beach

Beach renewal bill goes to panel (SC)

Terminal groins can work

Federal cuts threaten North Topsail’s beach
Topsail Voice Editorial (2/6/08)
In a January 23 editorial we expressed the need for North Topsail Beach to decide as a community on the future of beach nourishment, or chose instead to disband into smaller units, each with separate concerns. The editorial was predicated on the need for the town to decide what it’s future will be and then to marshal the forces needed to win county, state and federal support for maintaining the county’s beaches in the fashion decided by the town. As we noted, the town is sending mixed messages by agreeing in one area of the beachfront town to partner with Surf City for a beach nourishment plan, while in another beachfront area, avoiding any determined plan. North Topsail’s beaches are suffering from a pounding ocean and a lack of determination on the part of town officials. Unfortunately, there is yet another challenge- increased erosion of federal support, thereby compounding any future decision requiring financial support. The President’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget drastically cuts spending projects to protect coastal communities. A recent study by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association notes that the President’s budget cuts the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget 15 percent. More problematic, the report notes that, “76 percent will be slashed from General Investigations account that funds studies to determine how to reduce coastal hazards, as well as prevent loss of life and property destruction.” The future and financial success of North Topsail Beach is important to Pender and Onslow counties as well as the state. A clear concise plan is needed from North Topsail citizens and leaders if there is to be any outside political and financial support for maintaining the town’s beaches. While we anticipate some changes being made in President Bush’s budget plans, we also anticipate that some cuts will be made. These cuts, we fear, will represent the beginning of the end for all federal funds for beach nourishment. Time and money is fast running out, and without a concise plan on the part of North Topsail citizens, so will support from the county and the state. If that happens, North Topsail may not have to disband, it will simply wash away.


Surfrider Foundation retains legal counsel for Access 33 hearing

Commissioners to vote on move's cost
Wilmington Star by Chris Mazzolini (2/1/08)
Property owners on the north end of Wrightsville Beach and Figure Eight Island remain on the hook for $2.81 million New Hanover County spent to relocate Mason Inlet. And they'll be paying up soon. After going over the books with county financial staff, representatives of the Mason Inlet Preservation Group - which represents 1,044 property owners near the inlet - agreed that the owners owed the county about $2.81 million, which includes costs for work between 1999 and September 2007. Of those costs, residents at the north end of Wrightsville Beach will pay about $2.5 million while Figure Eight homeowners owe $337,666. The county commissioners will vote on those cost assessments Monday. If approved as expected, preliminary assessments will be mailed to property owners and a public hearing will be scheduled for the county commissioners' meeting on March 10. The saga began when homeowners agreed to pay for the cost of relocating the inlet, which separates Figure Eight Island from Wrightsville Beach. In 2002, the inlet was relocated about 3,000 feet to the north, rescuing properties in the path of the inlet's southward march. While homeowners have already paid about $6.7 million - the initial estimates for the original move - the project ended up costing about $8 million. Those cost over-runs plus maintenance and monitoring activities for the past five years left the $2.81 million unpaid. Last August, the preservation group's chairman Frank Pinkston asked the county to help pay the bill since the soaring value of properties rescued by the relocation project feeds directly into the county coffers. The county commissioners denied the request, instead telling the property owners they are expected to honor the agreement. After that, the preservation group decided to take its own look at the books, Pinkston said. That's been done and the preservation group agrees with the county's findings. "We're in agreement with this assessment," Pinkston said. "We wanted to look at the records. We did that, and now we have reached agreement." While paying the money will bring the homeowners even with the county through Sept. 2007, the relocation project's life lasts beyond 2030, with the property owners paying the bill the whole way. The latest project to clear shoaling from the inlet, Mason Creek and the entrance into the Intercoastal Waterway began late last year. The project is being paid for entirely by Figure Eight homeowners since they will be using the dredged sand to nourish the island's beaches. Pinkston said the preservation group is working with the Army Corps of Engineers and other environmental regulators to try to reduce some of the costs of future dredging projects. As far as the county commissioners are concerned, they just want the property owners to know that they are responsible. "I want to make certain that going forward we're not going to have this problem," said Commissioner Bill Kopp during the county's agenda briefing Thursday. And there are no plans to ask the county for help again, Pinkston said. "They turned us down, so I guess that's a dead issue for now," he said.

Beach project is 'passing'
Tideland News by Martha S. Ahlquist (1/30/08)
While students in Carteret and Onslow counties are bringing home report cards this week, Frank Rush, Emerald Isle manager, is giving out a report card of his own. With the town approaching the third anniversary of the beach nourishment project that called for shifting Bogue Inlet’s main channel to the west, Rush is evaluating the project’s progress. Overall, Rush gave the town’s effort a better-than-passing grade. “Generally, the town remains pleased with the project,” he said. The three-month project was completed in April 2005. By shifting the Bogue Inlet channel away from the area known as the Point, the western tip of Emerald Isle, it was hoped homes in the area would be saved from the severe erosion that was taking place. “There were about 60 homes in jeopardy,” Rush explained. Digging the new channel provided a source of beach-quality sand for nourishment. The town was able to use sand from the new inlet dredging to nourish the beach from Pinta Street to Spinnaker’s Reach subdivision off Coast Guard Road. The town also developed “secondary” goals, Rush said. The first was to improve public access at the Point. The second was to improve navigation of Bogue Inlet. And, Rush added, the town wanted to “accomplish all of the four goals without harming the environment.” At the one-year anniversary, everything looked “terrific,” he said. “I gave us an A-plus,” he said. At around two years after the project’s completion, however, oceanfront erosion near Channel Drive started causing problems. So the grades had slipped a little. Today, Rush gives many aspects of the project high marks. “The new channel is still terrific,” he explained. “For that part I will give it an A-plus.” Even Hurricane Ophelia couldn’t cause the grade on nourishing the beach the drop too much. “I would give it an A,” Rush said. Rush said navigating the channel remains easy. “The channel is in good shape,” he said. “That’s good since we haven’t gotten federal money in the past few years to help us out.” So far, no harmful effects to the environment have been documented. “We’re continuing to do a lot of environmental monitoring,” he added. The grade in one area, however, has slipped. That area is the one that is important to most beach visitors. “As far as improving public access, I’m afraid I will have to give it a D,” he said. Rush said in the fall, the public beach access at the Point was closed to vehicles and pedestrians. Also, four homes on the oceanfront have added sandbags in front of their homes in the past nine months to try to slow down erosion. “We’ve been watching it and we think it’s getting better,” he said. Rush said slowly, but surely, sand is filling in as a large portion of sand around Point Emerald Villas is building to the west. “That was predicted to happen in the environmental impact study,” he said. Rush said that, coupled with detailed underwater surveys, gives him a lot of comfort and reassurance. “I feel good about what’s going to happen,” he explained. “I’m very optimistic and still feel very positive. “The property owners seem to be pleased as well.” Greg “Rudi” Rudolph, Carteret County Shore Protection manager, said there have been natural “improvements” to the area since aerial photographs were taken on Jan. 5. “The shoreline erosion is caused by a flood channel, which is a smaller channel that is most active on a rising tide,” Rudolph said.
He added that the channel and the erosion it caused appear to be moving west and filling in with a new flood channel forming away from the homes at the Point. “The flood channel, once abandoned begins to fill in, which is what we are seeing, especially near the access at Channel Drive ,” he explained. “This very same area ... now is pretty wide with lots of slightly submerged sand and sub-aerial sand right in front of that very same access.” Rush said there is about 1,200 feet of sand at the Point but it’s “just not accessible from the vehicle access point.” As soon as the area fills in, the access will be opened. “A lot of people think that’s the most beautiful spot in Emerald Isle and a lot of people like to go there,” Rush said. “In the summer it looks like a boat dealership out there.” Rush said he believes the vehicle access could reopen in September. The beach vehicle season is from April 30 to Sept. 15. Rush added that the town was advised to wait four to six years before the final evaluation of the project’s success. Rush said, so far, with this being the three-year mark, the project has done well. “If you want to make a judgment, good or bad, on the project, you need to do it on all of the goals,” he said. The project should have a full six years before final judgment is passed, he added.

Beach budget still lacks funds for 50-year project
Carteret County News Times by Shannon Kemp (2/1/09)
PINE KNOLL SHORES — For the third year in a row the Carteret County Beach Commission’s budget does not include implementing a 50-year Shore Protection Project that would place sand on the 20 miles of Bogue Banks’ shoreline, but it does include a feasibility study for such a project. The beach commission unanimously approved Monday its proposed $1,018,991 fiscal 2008-2009 Monday during its meeting held at the town hall. The budget proposal now goes to county commissioners for review as part of the upcoming budget process. The fiscal year ends June 30, and a new county budget must be approved by then. “Similar to last year (the budget) contains some important details the commission may wish to pay special attention,” Shore Protection Manager Greg “Rudi” Rudolph said Monday. Of these important details, the construction of a 50-year Shore Protection Project is not included in the budget or the long-range budget forecast – a five-year budget forecast of expenditures. According to Mr. Rudolph, not including funding for such a project more aptly represents the current federal funding trend regarding the nation’s shore protection program. There was no funding for such projects in President George Bush’s budget plan either. “In all likelihood, funding (for such a project) won’t happen. So why would you include millions of expenditures for the beach project if it’s not going to happen,” Mr. Rudolph said. “Including the 50-year project in the budget would skew how our normal budget’s operations and expenditures would look,” he said. Mr. Rudolph explained in an interview Tuesday if the shore protection project did happen to be approved and funded by the federal budget, “millions upon millions of local funds – not just federal funds – would be spent getting the actual sand on the beach.” However, a feasibility study for such a project is included in the budget but is much less expensive than implementing the project. “The study phase is only a couple thousand dollars,” Mr. Rudolph said. The feasibility study phase of the Bogue Banks Shore Protection Project is included in the operations line item of the budget, which also includes project costs associated with supplies, small equipment, telephone, travel dues and subscriptions. Mr. Rudolph said there is roughly a 45-percent increase in operations compared to the fiscal 2007-08 budget and is directly related to the cost of the shore protection feasibility study. The estimated cost of the projects equals 86 percent of the entire operations budget ($200,000 of the $231,000). But the study may not even come to fruition. “The feasibility study should receive little to no funding from the federal government in 2008-09 and may not be a realized expenditure,” Mr. Rudolph told the commission. He explained that the commission puts the maximum amount of matching funds it would have to pay the federal government should that project be funded. If it is funded, it’s through funding from federal funds with a local match. But according to Mr. Rudolph, it’s not a “use it or lose it” situation for the commission should the feasibility study not be funded. Anything that’s left over goes into the beach fund reserve – funds specifically set aside for beach nourishment projects. The biggest expenditure in the beach commission’s budget is in legal fees in the contracted services line item. The contracted services line item is often the largest line item in the beach commission budget and is $665,000 for 2008-09, Mr. Rudolph said. It includes costs associated with beach monitoring, lobbying, a new Internet mapping program, graphic design for the “State of the Beach” annual report and the beach access and parking pamphlet. The higher dollar figures of contracted services go to engineering services from Olsen Associates Inc. and legal services from Kilpatrick, Stockton, LLP, which was hired in 2006 to assist the county in reconciling sand management matters in conflict with the Morehead City Navigation Project. These two combined represent 78 percent of the proposed contracted services line item ($520,000 of $665,000) The third section of the budget is personnel costs. Mr. Rudolph explained, “Personnel does not include any adjustments for cost-of-living but does include a longevity pay of $150 (per employee).” Also, the remaining personnel items, including medical insurance, FICA, have been recommended by the county using specific formulas for each line item. Fiscal 2008-09 is also the last year of a six-year commitment with the Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring Program, which was a stipulation of the Bogue Banks Restorations Project – a three-phase locally funded project that put sand on the shoreline from Indian Beach to Emerald Isle. That project started in 2002 and ended in 2005. The budget does not included the about a $17,000 expenditure for this program.
The board also received a long-range budget forecast that shows the history of expenditures and a look at what lies ahead. “The forecast is based on a number of different assumptions and is just a forecast ball park, but I feel like it’s a good exercise,” Mr. Rudolph said. “The way we do a budget is we look at our reserve and look at what we are going to get in terms of revenue from occupancy tax. We then look at what we spend and then we look at the reserve at end of year. That’s how we frame up the budget,” Mr. Rudolph said. Occupancy tax is a 5-cent bed-tax collected from any stay in a room associated with hotels, motels, condos or other similar places. Of that, 2.5 cents goes to the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) and the other 2.5 cents goes to the beach fund – a portion of the occupancy tax specifically designated for beach nourishment projects. The budget forecast shows that the beach fund could grow to be $19 million in fiscal 2013-2014 by not including construction of a 50-year Shore Protection Project in the budget. Basically it’s money that the commission wouldn’t spend that would go into the beach fund instead, Mr. Rudolph said. Currently the beach reserve fund is $5.3 million. However, with the way the occupancy tax law is written right now, if the beach reserve fund reaches $15 million, the excess has to go to the TDA. In reference to the $15 million cap, commission member Ted Lindblad asked if the reserve fund should be allowed to continue to grow, which he felt it should. Jack Goldstein also felt the rule might need to be changed to more aptly represent current funding trends. Mr. Goldstein said when the Carteret County Occupancy Tax law was written, “there was so much government help with beach nourishment projects. Now, there is not as much … the $15 million cap was made when we got more government help.” Mr. Rudolph said the commission would have to go to the state legislature to change anything in the law. The forecast also takes into account a change in the distribution ratio. Beginning July 1, 2010, the distribution rate changes to 3 cents for the TDA and 2 cents for the beach fund. The change will also give Carteret County the leverage of using an additional cent of the occupancy tax for construction of a new convention center. “In 2010 the ratio could be 2 cents for beach nourishment, 3 cents for TDA and 1 cent for the convention center,” he said adding, “If county doesn’t elect to do the convention center we will still only get 2 cents … the five-year forecast takes all of that into account.”

NTB should establish multiple taxing districts
Topsail Voice Letter to the Editor (1/30/08)
Your Jan. 23 editorial regarding North Topsail Beach beach nourishment touched on several key points dividing our town -- chief among them is funding. In my opinion, most people would not consider nourishing our beach until a specific iron-clad funding formula is presented. Without the possibility of federal funding, and with no long term committed funding from the state or the county, the entire costs could likely rest solely on the townspeople. And beyond the cost of the initial nourishment project, no one is addressing the on-going maintenance costs, or the very real possibility that all the nourishment sand could be washed away by the very first passing storm, leaving us with nothing but the on-going financial obligation. You indicate that NTB is an incorporated entity and should think of itself as a single community. However, we are not a uniform constituency. Without beach nourishment some houses could possibly wash away; with nourishment their value could skyrocket. Oceanfront homeowners clearly have most at risk but also most to gain. The funding formula used in most NC beach communities is to place the majority of the financial burden on those who stand to benefit the most. At Pine Knolls Shores , oceanfront homeowners pay 17.2 cents (87-percent), non-oceanfront: 2.64 cents (13-percent). Emerald Isle oceanfront homeowners pay 16 cents (94-percent), non-oceanfront homeowners 1 cent (6-percent). At Wrightsville Beach , when they relocated Mason Inlet , there was a sliding scale, with people closest to the inlet such as Shell Island Resort owners paying the most and decreasing as you moved away from the north-end toward Dunes Ridge. It makes sense to tax those people who own beachfront property more than those people who are across the street, or on the sound side of the island. While I am not a permanent resident and can’t vote, I did express my concerns by sending letters to every alderman in March 2006 letting them know that as a sound-side homeowner, I felt that NTB should establish multiple taxing districts just as it has been done up and down the coast. I continue to feel the same today. - Ed Tennent, North Topsail Beach & Potomac , Maryland

Oceanfront living not an entitlement
Wilmington Star letter to the Editor (2/1/08)
EDITOR: (Regarding the letter urging) compassion for residents of The Riggings: What a pity; each resident, regardless of the grant, would still have to pay out $50,000 from his or her own pockets. So who made the decision to have a place on the ocean, in hurricane country? If one makes bad choices, then don't expect others to bail you out if you have trouble. It is not up to the government, or me, to bail you out. You made the decision, so it is your responsibility. Please do not expect the public to pay for your stupid decisions. I can have sympathy for anyone who loses a home. But to expect others to buy them a new one or to shore up the present one if they chose to build on the ocean is totally out of line. This problem does not fit into a government entitlement program. If we pay, then we get to use your unit for two months each year - even you put it across the road like you were supposed to do years ago. Deal? - Mike Barker, Castle Hayne


Dredging referendum on way

Right course for beach funds

Oak Island to restore vegetation line

CRC reopens setback changes to public comment

The sandbag saga
When `temporary' is 20 years, N.C. law doesn't mean much

Wilmington Star Letter to the Editor (1/29/08)
Wow. Did someone from The Riggings steal your lunch money as a kid? Two years ago they were "coddled game-playing investors," now they have "done nothing except whine and stall" and they've "toyed for decades with the CRC, the state law, the taxpayers and the public."I've met many of The Riggings homeowners. None of them are ... fat-cat investors ... They're people of moderate means who just want to keep their homes. Regarding the $2.7 million FEMA grant: Did you know that there is a stipulation in the grant that every homeowner must agree to accept it? There are 48 homeowners in the Riggings complex. So, if one holdout refused to sign, you're happy to blame the whole group. You also fail to mention that even with the grant, it would cost each homeowner at least $50,000 for the move. Stacy Fuller, a mitigation specialist with the Division of Emergency Management, acknowledges that "the money per unit is inadequate." I believe in the rule of law. You clearly believe that the Division of Coastal Management needs to draw the line, and that's understandable, but try to show a little compassion for these folks. They have enough problems without you piling on. - Mike Hoffer, Carolina Beach


CRC accepts one rule change, delays another

Brunswick to fund river dredging
Usually a federal project; sand would go to beaches
Wilmington Star by Shannan Bowen (1/23/08)
Bolivia | Brunswick County commissioners have been known for their initiatives in seeking alternative funding strategies for major projects. The county board continued that trend Tuesday night by approving local funding - as opposed to applying for federal funds - to dredge the Eastern Channel of the Lockwood Folly River and dispose of the sand on Holden Beach or Oak Island. "We've been working on this since 12 years ago," Commissioner Bill Sue said. But the county had relied on applications for federal funds in the past and was unsuccessful, County Manager Marty Lawing said. The two-phase effort, initiated by the Southeast Brunswick Conservancy, involves dredging the channel to flush water to the river's inlet. This will allow fresh water to reach oysters in the area and open the area for boats to pass through, Lawing said. The project is expected to cost $182,900. The county board approved local funding of $45,475, contingent on the towns of Oak Island and Holden Beach providing $22,862.50 each in local funds. The N.C. Division of Water Resources is expected to provide a grant for $91,450, or 50 percent of the project. Coastal Science & Engineering of Morehead City was chosen to perform the work, and Lawing said the project should be completed by April 2009. The project will be brought back to the county commissioners to approve a final budget amendment after the towns of Holden Beach and Oak Island consider providing funds.
Historical survey
The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners also decided Tuesday night to create a committee to consider a request for a survey of the county's historical sites. Ouida Hewett, of the Brunswick County Historical Society, presented a request for a historical survey and documentation of the county's places, people and things of interest. "Everything old can't be saved, but it can be remembered," Hewett told commissioners. She also gave the commissioners a $300,000 budget plan for projects, including a documentary and publication of the historical survey. The county surveyed its historical sites in 1976, but the survey only included 22 items. Hewett said an updated survey should include graveyards, historical homes and well-known buildings that Brunswick County natives remember. Commissioner Sue said the committee will consist of county staff and members of the Brunswick County and Southport historical societies.

North Topsail Beach must come together or break apart
Topsail Voice Editorial (1/23/08)
The time has come for North Topsail Beach to decide as a community if beach nourishment is to be supported or avoided and whether the town itself should remain incorporated or possibly break up into independent communities. Unfortunately, residents are getting a mixed message because of two separate nourishment projects for the town. Currently, the town is partnered with Surf City on a federal project that involves nourishing an approximate 4 mile stretch of beach on the town’s southern end. Another independent beach nourishment project is proposed for the rest of the town’s beachfront but that project is not eligible for federal funding and it is this nourishment program that is in trouble. Absent any federal or state financial support, the bigger portion of North Topsail’s nourishment program covering approximately 11 miles of beach stretching from New River Inlet south will depend solely on town funding. And local funding is not getting a positive report. A public referendum last fall defeated an effort to pass a special tax that would have begun funding a beach nourishment program. A recent public hearing by the Army Corps of Engineers to explain steps for developing a beach nourishment project indicated further disagreements on that particular project. It has been suggested that the financial burden of paying for the proposed project be shouldered by those who are perceived to benefit the most from the project. Suggestions have been bandied about that property owners on the oceanfront, north end, in the proposed project area and in the Coastal Barrier Resource Act zone should have to pay more for beach nourishment than folks in the other parts of the town. With that kind of thinking, would it not be appropriate to refund to the residents living in the north end and central sections of the town the equivalent tax moneys spent on the south end, and that those property owners on the south end be required to pay more since their property values have been protected? It was even suggested at the last town meeting that the condominium owners at the Topsail Reef pay part of the costs associated with the US Army Corps of Engineers dredging of the New River Inlet because much of the sand would be placed in front of the condominium complex. These suggestions are an indication that not only are the town’s beaches and beachfront properties in jeopardy, so is the very concept of the town itself. North Topsail Beach is an incorporated entity. Town leaders and townspeople should think of themselves as one community, one interrelated group of residents. Property owners should expect that their taxes will go to support projects for the entire town, not just bits and pieces of it -- and by improving any part of the town that is in need, the whole community is enhanced. If North Topsail Beach town leaders and residents decide that they do not want to treat the town as a whole and that it should be “each man for himself”, then the town should dissolve and become unincorporated. If that were to happen, taxes would be lowered and residents would not have to worry about looking out for one another. The time is now for the town to decide if it wants to survive as one community or break apart in disparate pieces.

Erosion causes unsafe beach conditions
Topsail Voice Letter to the Editor (1/23/08)
First, let me say what a wonderful piece of paradise you have in North Topsail Beach and Topsail Reef. We have spent our vacations on the east coast from Virginia Beach to the Gold Coast to the Gulf Coast, and your NTB is (was) the best of all. God only made so much beach property and even less island property. We are not among the rich and powerful; We have worked hard for our money and we save up each year for our trip to NTB. How shocked were we when Treasure Reality informed us they were canceling our reservations at Topsail Reef due to beach erosion. They also indicated Topsail Reef may be condemned if another large sand loss occurred. We, as vacationers, spend a lot of money in the area from Jacksonville to Wilmington and all points in between. We have talked to many vacationers who rent at Topsail Reef and the St. Regis, and we will not be coming back until the beach returns. We were at NTB on the first of November and the beach was not safe. There were several large pieces of lumber awash in the surf and when the surf came in those pieces of lumber were like missiles. If they had hit a person in the surf or on the beach it could result in injury or death. I think NTB is public beach not private. Who would get sued in the event of injury or worse, due to an unsafe beach condition, The state, the county, NTB? In addition, a large slab of concrete from the Topsail Reef swimming pool fell onto the beach while we were there. What a shame, no, a crime, it is to let a selfish few allow a wonderful place like NTB and Topsail Reef to fall into decay and ruin. - Irv and Mary Henry, Columbus , Ohio


NC panel rejects sandbags request from Kure Beach complex

Beachfront building rule delayed
Carteret County News Times by Shannon Kemp (1/20/08)
NEW BERN — The state’s Coastal Resource Commission voted Friday to again put beachfront building setback rules back up for a public hearing. During the meeting at the Sheraton Hotel and Marina, the commission had the opportunity to vote on setback rules that deal with the size of structures rather than their use. But because changes have been made to the rules since the last public hearing held last year, the CRC voted to obtain more public comment. Commissioner Bill Peele made the motion to send the rule to public hearing. His fellow commissioner Joan Weld was supportive of the move. She said there was a need for more public information and input. Ms. Weld said she felt the commission, as well as other coastal agencies, needed to make it easier for the public to get to public hearings on the big coastal issues. “The last one was held in Greenville … I think it should have been held somewhere on the coast,” she said. The tentative date for a public hearing is set for May with a July adoption and the rules going into effect either in August or September. The commission did vote on minor changes to the proposed rules, including taking covered porches out of the equation for total square footage of a structure and changed road rules to include them as infrastructure. In North Carolina, setbacks for oceanfront structures are measured from the first line of stable vegetation and extend 30 times the annual erosion rate to a particular development. For North Carolina, the annual erosion rate is 2 feet, making the minimum setback 60 feet. However, setback rules were made in the 1970s and seem to be in need of an update since there were no houses that exceeded 7,000 square feet back then, said an N.C. Division of Coastal Management (DCM) representative. The proposed rules will allow setbacks to increase gradually and not all in one big jump, said Jeff Warren, a coastal hazards analyst with DCM. The minimum setback is proposed to remain at 30 times the annual erosion rate for structures less than 5,000 square feet but increases, at seven additional increments, with the maximum setback at 90 times the erosion rate for 100,000-square-foot structures. “We’re not saying you can’t build them (large structures), just build it farther from the ocean,” Mr. Warren said. He also said that while some felt the commission should not be dabbling in the issue of floor size and that it should be left up to the towns, it was well within the commission’s jurisdiction to base the rules on square footage. In addition to setbacks, the commission also discussed static vegetation line regulations. While the two go hand-in-hand, the commission voted on the proposed changes to the static line definitions because they were not substantial changes. The vegetation line is set just before a town undergoes a beach nourishment project which pumps the shore line with needed sand. “It is not a change in how we do business or how we define the vegetation line … there are additional words in there for clarification. Overall, the definition remains the same,” Mr. Warren said. One change that seemed to please some coastal town residents was a change in a 2,000-square-foot limitation for any construction that has received a static line exemption. The board voted to change the limitation from 2,000 square feet to 2,500 square feet. This means if a house that received a static line exemption received more than 50-percent damage because of natural hazards, it can be rebuilt up to 2,500 square feet. Mr. Warren said coastal management staff felt 2,000 square feet was the overall size of residential buildings on the coast right now and a size more easily moved. However, he said some towns felt 2,000 square feet was too small by today’s standards.
Bill Morrison from Pender County said he was glad of the commission made the change from 2,000 to 2,500 square feet. “There is a definite need because 2,000 square feet is too small,” he said. Frank Rush, town manager from Emerald Isle, said he was pleased with the direction the board is going in and pleased of the increase to 2,500 square feet as well. “I’m happy they took our concerns seriously,” he said. Pine Knoll Shores Town Manager, Brian Kramer, said he had been concerned that homeowners be allowed to rebuild their homes at the same square footage if something were to happen to the home. “Our concern is how homeowners in Pine Knoll Shores who lose their house will have the ability to replace that home on the same footprint, the same square footage. “We aren’t interested in promoting the development of condominiums or large development on the ocean front, simply single-family residential rebuilding homes – assuming, of course, the static vegetation line hasn’t moved,” he said. Mr. Kramer said Pine Knoll Shores was supportive of the commission, “but if the rules are so stringent that they reduce the ability of the homeowners to rebuild homes, it’s something we are concerned about.” Mr. Kramer said he was interested in the concept of a grandfather clause and whether the commission would consider such a clause. Mr. Warren did bring the issue of grandfathering to the commission, saying it was a concern from some coastal towns, but no decision was made on the issue. Talks concerning setback regulations began in 2006 when the current state of the coast was addressed. In light of rising sea levels, development pressures and natural pressures on the coast, the commission was asked if setback rules should be addressed. In July 2007 draft language was written and sent to a public hearing stage, which ran from Nov. 1, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2007. “There was no setback rule in 1978 but there was one in 1979. It’s safe to say while many may not like it, they are used to the setback,” Mr. Warren said.

Request to keep Riggings' sandbags denied
Wilmington Star by Gareth McGrath (1/19/08)
New Bern | The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission on Thursday overwhelmingly rejected a request by the Riggings to keep its sandbags in place for the foreseeable future. Both state regulators and the homeowners could now turn to the courts, with the state looking to enforce its sandbag-removal order and the homeowners seeking to appeal their variance denial by the CRC. Homeowners of the Kure Beach condominium complex have relied on the sandbags to hold back the encroaching Atlantic since the mid-1980s. But after years of giving the Riggings extensions, state regulators two years ago pulled the complex's sandbag permit after the homeowners narrowly rejected a federal buyout deal. That deal, which included a $2.7 million Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard mitigation grant, would have helped the Riggings rebuild on land the homeowners owned across U.S. 421. The homeowners, however, said the package didn't reflect the true value of their oceanfront property and would have cost them significant out-of-pocket expenses. They recently put that 2.35-acre property on the market for $13.5 million. The Riggings also has declined to remove the sandbags, instead proposing to develop a private beach nourishment project to boost their eroded beach. But the sandy stretch in front of the Riggings contains an outcropping of coquina rock, which is federally protected and can't be disturbed. Riggings' attorney Gary Shipman said the homeowners would be willing to mitigate for any coquina that was buried. But the CRC has grown frustrated with the homeowners, especially since sandbags are supposed to be only a temporary erosion-control device to buy some time until a more permanent solution can be developed. Two decades, it seems, was deemed long enough to do so.

Not sand-bagged this time
Wilmington Star Editorial (1/20/08)
Apparently fed up with two decades of stalling by Kure Beach condo owners, the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission told them Thursday to get their sand bags off the public's beach. The big bulging bags were supposed to provide temporary protection from the oncoming waves while the owners moved their pleasure domes across the road. That was more than 20 years ago. The owners have done nothing except whine and stall - even after Rep. Mike McIntyre got $2.7 million of public money to help save their private investments from the forces of Nature. It would be one thing if the owners' refusal to face reality affected only them. But it also affects the public beach in front of their folly. The public and its representatives on the Coastal Resources Commission have been remarkably patient. But it's time for these people to obey the law. It's time for us to get our beach back. Thanks to the CRC for trying.


Leveling of beach strand set for February

Navy gets sonar exemptions

Public's beach at stake today
Wilmington Star Editorial (1/17/08)
North Carolina's coastal protection efforts could lose what's left of their credibility today. The Coastal Resources Commission could again surrender to Kure Beach condominium owners who have toyed for decades with the CRC, the state law, the taxpayers and the public. The CRC is being asked to let the owners of The Riggings leave giant sandbags on the eroding public beach in front of their aging condos. The bags have been there since 1985, even though the law says they can be used only temporarily. The condo owners said they would use that reprieve to move to the other side of the road, farther from the ocean. They bought the land. But they never moved. A few years ago, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre got $2.7 million from the federal taxpayers to help the owners make their move. The ever-patient CRC said they could leave the sandbags for another two years, while they retreated across the road, keeping their ocean view. But they didn't move. Now they're trying to sell the property that was to be their refuge. They say they'll use the proceeds to finance a private sand-pumping project. Even if that could be worked out, the sand would disappear quickly enough. The ocean would again start lapping at the pilings. The owners would again be begging for sandbags. It was one thing for the CRC to do everything within reason to help these people. It would be another for the CRC to allow itself to be played for a sucker - and, for the benefit of a few, to gut a law passed to protect the interests of the many. The commission's usefulness is has been in doubt for several years. All doubt would vanish with a craven cave-in.

State regulators deny permit extension for sandbags at the Riggings
Wilmington Star by Gareth McGrath (1/17/08)
The Coastal Resources Commission today rejected the latest attempt by homeowners at the Riggings condominium complex to keep sandbags in place. Homeowners have relied on the sandbags to protect the 48-unit complex from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean for more than two decades. State regulators had already ordered the bags removed, but homeowners have declined to follow the order. Under state law, sandbags are supposed to be a temporary measure to buy a property owner time to come up with a permanent solution to protect oceanfront property from the encroaching ocean. Generally that means either removing a threatened home or nourishing the eroded beach. But the Riggings’ sandbags have been in place since 1985, and state regulators have repeatedly chastised the homeowners for seeming to have little enthusiasm for working on a long-term solution to their erosion woes beside asking for sandbag extensions.

Some fear another turtle nest decline
Activists urge more loggerhead protections
Wilmington Star by Gareth McGrath (1/17/08)
Jean Beasley, who's been watching sea turtles nest on Topsail Island for more than three decades, doesn't need to see the latest nesting numbers to know the loggerhead is in trouble. "I see it as a black-and-white question, not as a gray area," said the director of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Topsail Beach. "And the answer is, 'Yes.'" Across the Southeast, loggerhead nest counts are trending the wrong way. The declining nesting numbers, highlighted by the 50 percent drop in Florida in the past decade, has renewed interest in ramping up protection for the northern population of the loggerhead. "We can't afford to assume that this is just part of a natural cycle," said Elizabeth Griffin, a marine scientist with Oceana, one of the environmental groups that's petitioned the federal government to raise the northern loggerhead's status from "threatened" to "endangered." But some researchers believe what's happening onshore is only half the story. They point to surveys, backed by anecdotal evidence from fishermen, that there are more juvenile loggerheads in coastal waters than have been seen in decades. The numbers are seen as the successful product of increased conservation methods on nesting beaches and stricter fishing practices. Since loggerheads can take up to 30 years to reach sexual maturity, this baby boom might still be years from translating into more nests on the beach. But it's still a piece of the puzzle that can't be ignored, said Mike Arendt, a biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. "We can't just look at what's going on the beach without looking at what's going on in the water," he said.
Concern growing
But what's happening on the beach, or more precisely what isn't happening, has plenty of people concerned. "It's not just a one-year dip we're seeing," said Barbara Schroeder, national sea turtle coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. While nesting numbers can fluctuate wildly from year to year, the overall trend in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia has been a steady 2 percent to 3 percent decline a year since 1983. But last year's lack of nesting activity - a 31 percent drop - was eye opening. North Carolina saw 542 loggerhead nests, significantly lower than the 780 the state saw in 2006 and well below its average of 725. In South Carolina, loggerhead nesting numbers for 2007 were down 33 percent from 2006. Georgia also saw a 33 percent decline from its 18-year average of 1,023 nests while Florida, which has the country's largest nesting loggerhead population, has seen nest numbers drop 50 percent since the late 1990s. Throw in the period between 1989 and 1996, which saw nesting numbers increase significantly, and the decrease was still a worrisome 37 percent, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The steep and continuous declines in nesting numbers has rekindled talk of whether the northern population of the loggerhead, which nests from northern Florida through North Carolina, deserves to be given more protection. Last fall several environmental groups petitioned Washington to review the sea turtle's status. Currently loggerheads are listed as threatened. But breaking out the sea turtle's northern population and giving it "endangered" status under the federal Endangered Species Act could have dramatic impacts for fishermen. Additional protections for the sea turtle could mean more fishing restrictions in areas considered critical habitat for the loggerhead and fewer allowable "takes" of sea turtles that accidently get caught in their nets or on their hooks. It also could warrant additional protections on nesting beaches. Part of the reason for the growing concern among researchers is that the importance of the loggerhead's northern population goes beyond their geographic nesting area. Larry Crowder, a marine biologist with Duke University, said that since turtle sex is determined by temperature, the northern population plays a vital role in providing males for the overall loggerhead population. Thus cooler beaches, like those found in North Carolina, produce more males per clutch than nests laid on warmer beaches in southern Florida. "With all of the effort put into recovery measures, you'd hope you would see a wobbling up trend, not a wobbling down trend," Crowder said of recent nest counts. "I think it would be complacent on our part to assume that this is just part of some long-term trend."
Good news?
But what if the loggerhead is on the cusp of a nesting boom as the benefits of 25 years of increased protection finally bear fruit? An in-shore survey off the South Carolina, Georgia and North Florida coasts earlier this decade showed a four- to five-fold increase in sea turtle abundance compared with turtle numbers recorded on shrimp trawlers in the 1970s. Another study looking at sea turtles captured by pound nets in North Carolina's Pamlico and Albermarle sounds showed the loggerhead population increasing at 13 percent a year. "The reason that hasn't translated into more nesting so far is because most of what we're catching are juvenile or immature turtles," said South Carolina's Arendt, who worked on the in-shore survey project. "But it's real encouraging." He credits increased conservation methods, from protecting turtle nests onshore to the widespread use of turtle-exclusion devices by shrimpers, for the increased numbers. "All of the historic threats are still there," Arendt said. "But we've mitigated a lot of them, or at least those that are within our control." But environmentalists caution that while the survey results are obviously good news, there's still a lot we don't know about the loggerhead's life cycle. Oceana's Griffin added that the turtle surveys just offer a population snapshot while the decline in nesting numbers is backed by decades of data from several states. Whether the increase in sea turtles at sea eventual leads to an increase in nesting activity on the beach remains to be seen. But with nest counts dropping, development pressures on many nesting beaches increasing and climate change throwing more unknowns into the mix, officials said there's still plenty of reasons to be concerned about the loggerhead's future. "I think it certainly should keep us on our toes," said Kelly Thorvenson, sea turtle rescue coordinator at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston. "We need to keep a close eye on what's going on."


Riggings owners bank on sandbags
Habitat prohibits nourishment, so homeowners cling to 22-year stopgap
Wilmington Star by Gareth McGrath (1/16/08)

Kure Beach | The Riggings wants one more shot to explain to coastal regulators why the 48-unit condominium complex should be allowed to retain the sandbags that have protected it from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean for more than two decades. But the homeowners also have put the property across the street that was the basis of a federally funded relocation plan on the market for $13.5 million. That could paint the Riggings property owners into a corner, with no place to rebuild their condominiums if the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission turns down the variance request. State regulators have already ordered the bags removed, an action the homeowners so far have declined to follow. Under state law, sandbags are supposed to be a temporary measure to buy a property owner time to come up with a permanent solution to protect oceanfront property from the encroaching ocean. Generally that means either removing a threatened home or nourishing the eroded beach. But the Riggings' sandbags have been in place since 1985, and state regulators have repeatedly chastised the homeowners for seeming to have little enthusiasm for working on a long-term solution to their erosion woes beside asking for sandbag extensions.
Relocation refused
Last April, the N.C. Division of Coastal Management filed an injunction to order the Riggings to remove the bags. That move came nearly a year after a majority of the homeowners turned down a proposal to use a $2.7 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to help them relocate their condominiums across U.S. 421 onto property that the Riggings already owned. Rejection of the deal, which U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, among others, worked hard to cobble together, frustrated many officials. It also prompted Coastal Management to rescind the Riggings' sandbag permit a year early, since the two-year extension granted in 2005 was based on the homeowners accepting the relocation proposal. But Riggings' attorney Gary Shipman said the FEMA deal didn't make financial sense for the homeowners. He said the proposal wouldn't have given market-value for the homeowners' oceanfront property and would have cost them significant out-of-pocket money. Shipman said the reason the Riggings has put the undeveloped 2.35-acre parcel up for sale is to raise money to help fund a private beach nourishment project. "We're the only part of the beach there that hasn't been renourished for reasons that aren't supportable," he said. The Army Corps of Engineers doesn't pump sand onto the beach in front of the Riggings because of the presence of coquina rock, which is considered prime and protected marine habitat. Yet, Shipman claimed, other pockets of the tidal rocks have been buried during previous nourishment projects. The Riggings' proposal would use reef balls as replacement habitat for the coquina rock that would be buried if the complex's beach was nourished. Shipman said the state-built rock revetment just to the south of the Riggings, which protects the Fort Fisher Historic Site, also amplifies the erosion along the beach in front of the condominium complex. "We're hopeful that the board members will have an open mind about our unique set of circumstances," he said. Shipman said the homeowners understand that any new variance extension would likely come with some significant strings attached. Jim Gregson, director of Coastal Management, declined to talk in detail about the Riggings case because of the upcoming variance hearing. But he said the state had agreed to hold off on moving forward with the court action pending Thursday's hearing. Gregson added that any financial penalty against the Riggings would be determined only after the sandbags had been removed.

Residents voice opinions on North Topsail Beach plan
Topsail Voice by Connie Pletl (1/16/08)
N. TOPSAIL BEACH – Residents came out to voice their opinions last week about a proposed beach nourishment project in North Topsail Beach that is not eligible for federal funding. The US Army Corps of Engineers held the public hearing on Jan. 9 at the North Topsail Beach town hall on a draft Environmental Impact Study. The study is part of the process needed for the town to be able to receive permits that would allow a beach project to move forward. Mickey Sugg, the project manager assigned by the USACE, outlined the purpose of the draft EIS. “This is just a document to help us make a decision if the permit is approved… or denied,” said Sugg. He noted that comments made by the public will be one of the factors in determining whether to issue the permit. Other factors include benefits and detriments such a project could have on conservation, navigation, economics, fish and wildlife and the needs of the public. Project engineer Tom Jarrett of Coastal Planning & Engineering, the consulting firm the town hired for the project, gave an overview. Key points of the project include reconfiguring the New River Inlet and placing sand from it onto the northern shores of Topsail Island and using offshore borrow sites to get sand for the rest of the shoreline in the town. “The majority of the sand would come from offshore borrow areas,” said Jarrett. He also noted that the project would build up the berm of the beach and shore up or rebuild sand dunes to a height of 14 feet. Jarrett also said that the town could do the project in phases so that the entire cost would not have to be paid for upfront. Dawn York, also with CP&E, spoke about the environmental concerns associated with the project. She said that there were diverse ecosystems in the area, notably the New River Inlet Outcrop, which is a “fairly significant area.” However, York said that the plan took into account minimization and avoidance measures, and worked with environmental and regulatory agencies to reduce the project’s impact environmentally. North Topsail Beach residents listened to the presentations and then voiced their own opinions.
Alderman elect Robert Swantek said that he felt sand that is mined out of the inlet will just wash off the beach and back into the inlet. Wynn Batton disagreed, saying that if the inlet were straightened he felt it would prevent erosion and the sand would stay. Becky Bowman said that the project is needed and that the town needs to do something to protect homes and infrastructure. Bill Walsh said he felt something should be done not just locally, but federally, and that laws should be changed to allow for hardened structures on the beach. “Sand pumping is not the answer,” he said. The town continues to experience bad erosion, said Buddy Godwin. “The only savior I see is a beach nourishment project.” Godwin also noted that the town has been working toward a beach project for years and that CP&E was hired for their professionalism. He asked that the USACE grant the town the permit. Environmental issues were a factor for Alderman Richard Farley. He said he was concerned about offshore hard bottom areas and the impact of relocating the inlet. Farley also said he was concerned about the financial impact, especially given that by the time a third phase of the project came around, he believed, the first phase would need maintenance. “It doesn’t seem cost effective,” said Farley. Batton spoke up again and said that if nothing were done and homes were lost or decreased in value, then the town would see a decrease in its tax base. Farley noted that the value of the homes and property that could be threatened was not in line with the cost of the project. “Maybe you should simply look out for your community,” said Eric Emerich in response. “Or simply look out for yourself,” Farley replied to Emerich. June Dougherty said that it is important to find out what the people of the town want to do about the proposed project. “How do you expect people to come forward if you don’t give them a voice?” she asked. Gary Rowland said the town needed to do something now about its erosion problem. He said the proposed plan that had been given to CP&E by the town’s beach nourishment committee might have some flaws but at least they put out a plan and it could be modified later after receiving the permit. After the hearing, mayor elect Don Martin said he was pleased with the way the meeting had gone. “It was a good discussion; maybe we can get something done,” said Martin. The USACE will still be taking comments on the draft EIS until 4:15 p.m. on Jan. 30. A copy of the draft can be found at www.coastalplanning.net/projects/temp/ntopsail.html or written or CD copies can be obtained by calling Gwen Dye at 251-4494.


Nags Head looks to donors for help battling erosion

Impact study for North Topsail beach nourishment complete

Isle of Palms aims to get rolling on beach renourishment by spring

Your guide to the process of regulating ORVs on the seashore


OIB using sandbags for east end

NTB takes a new look at beach nourishment

Development, storms blamed for lower bird counts

Council To Consider Amendment For Reduction Of Setbacks Along Oceanfront

North Topsail to hear draft of impact study
Topsail Voice by Connie Pletl (1/9/08)
N. TOPSAIL BEACH – One more step is being taken toward the likelihood of a private beach project at the northernmost end of Topsail Island. A hearing regarding a required Environmental Impact Statement will take place at the North Topsail Beach Town Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 6:30 p.m. In order for the town to receive the needed permit for a private beach project, it must have an EIS statement that has been approved by various state environmental agencies. “Getting the permit is the big hurtle,” said Dick Macartney, chairman of the town’s beach preservation committee. However, it is not the only hurtle. Alderman Dick Farley said the town board has yet to vote on the proposed plan and funding. He noted that plans and financing have been informally discussed, but other than approving the feasibility study, the board has not approved any specific plan. Farley said he worries that a plan is being pushed through without the approval of the board or the citizens. “I’m concerned about how these things get done – who’s steering this ship?” said Farley. The beach preservation committee and the mayor’s finance committee have been tasked with exploring options for a possible project and its financing but do not have the power of implementation. “It’s not up to the beach nourishment committee or the finance committee to dictate policy,” said Farley. In his estimation, Farley said he believes the proposed plan is flawed and worries that funding will not be able to keep up with required maintenance. He said he understands the importance of obtaining a permit but wonders if the town would be constrained by the financing and other conditions set forth in the plan as outlined in the EIS. At Wednesday’s hearing, project consultants and officials from the US Army Corps of Engineers will present information on the proposed project, and accept public input. “The public hearing will be more about environmental issues than about sand,” said Macartney. There will also be a brief overview of the proposed project by the town’s consultants, Coastal Planning & Engineering. The hearing will not be a question and answer session, according to Interim-Town Manager Thomas Taylor, but rather a chance for people to voice their comments and concerns. The town has been working with the Army Corps on an approved beach nourishment plan for the southernmost portion of the town. That project is being done jointly with Surf City and is eligible to receive federal funding. Because the other areas of the town include Coastal Barrier Resource Act zones, they are not eligible for federal funding. Therefore, if the town intends to have a beach nourishment project in those areas, it must be done as a private project. The proposed private project includes straightening, widening and deepening the New River Inlet, which is thought to be the cause of much of the erosion troubles at the north end of the island. Sand from the inlet could then be pumped onto the beach in stages, according to the plan. Sand could also be taken from borrow areas offshore to nourish the town’s eroded beaches. Erosion is taking its toll along North Topsail Beach ’s shores. Taylor said that parts of the beach are eroding at a rate of two feet or more a year. Yet recently he has seen some areas that have experienced five or six feet. “The erosion has been phenomenal,” said Taylor. He noted that new erosion took place between Christmas and New Year’s Day. While the beach sometimes gains some sand, Taylor said that it is losing more than it gains. “It always seems to go more than it comes,” he said. Nowhere is that more apparent than the north end. Six duplexes are condemned and sit empty on the shoreline, other homes have the high tide lapping at their foundations and the Topsail Reef condominium complex has had the ocean washing underneath all of its buildings. According to the draft EIS, there were 31 residential structures considered to be imminently threatened as of August 2007. More have been included since that date. The draft EIS goes on to state that approximately $63 million would be lost from the town’s tax base if those structures are lost. Mayor Rodney Knowles has been in North Topsail Beach for 22 years and has seen storms and erosion impact the shoreline. “There’s always been beach erosion,” he said. Mayor Knowles pointed out that Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and towns up and down the coast are all vying for beach nourishment. “Everyone is in line to fortify their beach,” he said. However, North Topsail Beach still has to gain the approval of state agencies -- and the town board of aldermen -- before it will receive any sand on its eroding northern shoreline. When the final EIS is ready, it will be submitted to approximately 27 state agencies for approval, according to Macartney. “So it is possible that all permits will be issued before fall of 2008,” said Macartney. “Once permitted, the plan must be implemented and will require the actions of this board (the town board of aldermen), including hiring a project manager, letting contracts and so on. “Needless to say, this project, which has been underway since 2000, is far from complete and will require attention from town staff and especially the board of aldermen.”

Topsail Voice Letter to the Editor (1/9/08)
Both sides must work together to save the beach
While the “beach preservationist” ex-candidates Dick Macartney, Gary Rowland and Sue Tuman have been focusing their energies on fighting the county and state judicial review of NC state voter/residency law, the New River Inlet has stepped up its mighty migration southward. The inlet is carving its mouth toward the northern tip of the island, with tidal waves now breaking under all eight Topsail Reef buildings and under several dozen duplex homes. The current North Topsail Beach Board of Aldermen, wrongly called anti- beach nourishment, has allowed for the $400,000 extension of the CP&E contract, which is currently finishing up all the project's final permits. We are on track to begin straightening the Inlet starting in November. This must not be delayed. The mayor-elect and the aldermen-elect, contrary to their press, will not oppose saving the north end of the island. The issue is, and always has been, money. I was dismayed that the December meeting of the Beach Preservation Committee, members Macartney and Rowland in attendance, did not have on its agenda, the utmost urgency in working on a payment plan funding the inlet straightening so that the committee may bring the plan (and several variations of) before the board of aldermen for approval. Those many beach preservationists, who are facing the normal three feet or so erosion rate a year, may have had time to vote against preserving the beach at last year's referendum, and they may believe they have time to battle the town, the county, and the state now but a true beach preservationist, who wants to preserve all of NTB, knows there is not a month to wait in continued battle. The inlet will soon cut off the northern end of the island, and moreover, erosion rates adjacent to the inlet average 15-20 feet a year. We will see the waves break under the St Regis in far too short a time if nothing is done. I urge ex-candidates Macartney and Rowland to prove they were not simply using beach preservation as a campaign term, and to work hard now on their committee to bring forward a payment plan that the board of aldermen will approve, so that the inlet project will not be delayed. I urge Alderman Dan Tuman, who has been on the board already for several years, to bring forward all the outside money he has, in the past, promoted he can obtain and I can only hope his wife’s defeat will not slow his endeavors down. I urge Onslow County , which has not been given funds (wisely by the current town board) for their continual band-aid approach to navigation in the inlet, to work with NTB and the base now for a more permanent solution to the inlet migration. I urge the forces that are encouraging Topsail Reef owners to take the lawsuit path to instead work on helping to construct a viable plan where their funds go not to lawyers but to saving their homes. The inlet affects county fishing and tourism, Marine boating access and the property owners of the north end of Topsail Beach. All those interests should come together to pay for NTB beach nourishment, phase one, inlet straightening. We need every beach preservationist on the two town boards to put aside personal angst at campaign defeat and work with our elected officials to preserve the north end. - Mary Convy, North Topsail Beach


Proposed CRC regulations would not impact flood insurance rates

State funds could help town purchase Beach Access No. 33

Erosion concerns foreshadow sand wars (SC)

Area's coastal birds, turtles in decline
Foxes, storms, development blamed
Wilmington Star by Gareth McGrath (1/4/08)
Eight miles long and undeveloped, Masonboro Island should be an oasis for shorebirds and sea turtles looking for a peaceful beach to nest. But last year not a single colonial shorebird successfully nested on the barrier island, snuggled between Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, that's managed by the N.C. Division of Coastal Management. Part of the reason was a series of strong storms that hit just when nesting season started. But a bigger problem was predators that stole eggs, killed birds and dug up sea turtle nests. Anthony Snider, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and former manager of the state reserve site, said of particular worry is the red fox, a species introduced by British settlers for hunting in the 18th century. Unlike raccoons, foxes will take eggs and birds. And they're intelligent, easily adapting and overcoming predator-exclusion devices. "Foxes are incredibly efficient killers," Snider said. "There's definitely a problem out there." Predators are just one of many threats facing the state's imperiled coastal species. Throw in rampant development and poor management practices, such as failing to establish effective buffers between human recreational activities and bird-nesting areas, and environmentalists said it's little wonder that the latest census numbers paint a worrisome picture. "Some of our species that nest on the beaches are having a tough time, a real tough time these days," said Walker Golder, deputy director of Audubon North Carolina. Provisional tallies for 2007 show nesting numbers for gull-billed terns and black skimmers declined 9 percent and 11 percent, respectively, from the last nesting count in 2004. And the common tern is increasingly not so common in the Tar Heel state, recording a 13 percent decline in nest numbers. The number of loggerhead sea turtle nests in 2007 was 25 percent lower than normal, although biologists aren't sure whether this signifies a worrisome trend or is just part of a natural cycle. But not all of the nesting news was bad. North Carolina saw a 33 percent increase from 2006 in nesting pairs of the federally endangered piping plover, although the total count was still only 61 pairs and only one in four managed to successfully fledge a chick, said David Rabon, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Also seeing an increase in nesting numbers were least terns, which saw their nesting numbers jump 17 percent from 2004. But that figure was a bit illusionary, Golder said. Much of the increase was due to displaced terns trading oceanfront property for nesting on flat, pea-gravel-lined roofs of large buildings. But as either buildings get knocked down or roofs get replaced with synthetic membranes, this nesting option could shrink. "Least terns are highly adaptable," Golder said. "But in the long term, that's probably not sustainable." He said a more viable solution to the needs of the imperiled species is better management of the existing coastal resources. "The northern end of Wrightsville Beach is an excellent example of local governments, nongovernmental groups, and state and federal agencies working together to manage an area of beach to make it suitable for birds and for human recreational activities," Golder said. A less successful attempt at balancing the needs of humans and animals is occurring along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where several environmental groups have sued the National Park Service. The groups contend that the federal government isn't doing enough to help beach-driving vehicles and nesting shorebirds coexist on the narrow ribbons of sand. "They definitely could be doing more than they are doing now," said Jason Rylander, an attorney with Defenders of Wildlife. A call to the National Seashore wasn't returned Thursday. But officials said the top way to boost the state's numbers of nesting shorebirds and turtles could be by controlling the coast's booming fox population. On Bald Head Island, officials are trying to educate the public about the dangers of feeding foxes and leaving trash in accessible locations. Suzanne Dorsey, executive director of the Bald Head Island Conservancy, said foxes begging for food are easily spotted along some of the Brunswick County island's main drags. That leads the animals to connect food to humans and to be drawn to where they are, including the beach. It doesn't take long for the foxes to then find the birds and the turtle nests. "They are very quick to learn and pick up when and where they need to go to find food, especially high-quality food like eggs," Dorsey said. As they did on Masonboro Island, red foxes last year devastated the nesting shorebird population at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. They also dug into at least half of the site's turtle nests, in some cases digging under chicken-wire boxes dug several feet into the beach, said park Superintendent Matt Windsor. Officials are removing trash cans from the beach, centralizing garbage disposal at the main gate, to try to discourage foxes from the oceanfront. But Windsor doubts that will end the problem, which could leave officials with the "distasteful" step of looking at lethal means to control the foxes. "We don't necessarily like that," he said, "but there don't seem to be a lot of options right now."

Erode the rules, destroy the coast
Wilmington Star Editorial (1/4/08)
Forty-three scientists from around the state, the country and the world are urging North Carolina lawmakers not to weaken the state's law that bans seawalls and similar coastal structures. The state Senate already agreed to weaken it. The N.C. House needs to stand up for the public - and that's what this issue is really about: whether to protect beaches that belong to the public, or property that belongs to a few. Some of those few on Figure Eight Island are asking permission to build a groin - jetties, we used to call them - that would stick out into the water from the beach. Groins are supposed to trap sand on one side, to build up the beach on that side. Of course, the beach on the other side - or the island on the other side of an inlet - is out of luck. The sand that was headed that way gets hijacked. Scientists from some of the most prestigious universities and research institutes in the world have signed a strong statement that summarizes why they believe it would be a mistake to allow groins on the North Carolina coast, even as an "experiment." In the first place, they say, there's no need to experiment; the ill effects of groins are already "well understood," thanks to experience as well as studies. "There is no debate," the letter says flatly. Even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calls groins "probably the most misused and improperly designed of all coastal structures" and says they cause "erosion and a decrease in beach width on the downdrift side of the groin." As for the promise that state regulators could require the "experimental" groin to be removed if it doesn't work as advertised, the scientists point out the realities of the world: Removing such structures "is a rare event - no matter what promises were made beforehand." (Consider, for example, North Carolina's experience with allowing the "temporary" use of giant sandbags. Some remain on our beaches after more than 20 years.) It's entirely understandable that people want to protect their valuable scenic property from the sea. But the science is clear: It isn't possible to protect the property of the few without endangering the property of the many - not only public shores and strands, but also other private property along the beach. Even if there were a credible argument for "experimenting" with such structures, the inevitable result would be to encourage others to ask for similar exceptions. A law that has served North Carolina well would begin to disappear - and with it, North Carolina's public beaches.


Scientists see no point to easing seawall ban

Coastal Considerations For The New Year


Rules could change for beach properties

Christmas trees can still have a post-holiday use

Carteret floats plan for public access, business on Morehead waterfront

Hunting Island plan modified

Shore towns wrestle with DEP's new beach regulations (NJ)

Recycling trees helps make dunes stable
Carteret County News Times by Shannon Kemp (12/28/07)
FORT MACON — When the tinsel and trimmings come off the tree, what’s left can be used to stabilize the beach and rebuild sand dunes. Fort Macon State Park takes in Christmas trees from individuals to use in its Dune Stabilization Project, which helps steady dunes that get a lot of use or areas that are gouged out by the wind, according to Park Ranger Randy Newman. Individuals who wish to donate their trees to the project should take all the tinsel and decorations off the tree then take it to the bathhouse area at Fort Macon . The tree recycling program started Dec. 26 and will go through Jan. 20. “We keep our sand dunes open to the public and they get a lot of use,” he said. “Also, wind gets in there and blows the sand out which causes blowouts.” Blowouts, he explained, are areas where the vegetation is not longer in existence and the wind is able to blow the sand out of the area, making what looks like a big bowl in the sand. Those are the spots the park rangers go in and fill with Christmas trees, he said. “It’s a good way of recycling the trees by placing them in the dunes.” Mr. Newman also said that over a period of time, the Christmas trees will decay and form fertilizer that will help plants start to grow. Birds will build nests and stay in the trees during the winter and will drop seeds that will also grow. “Within 10 years every thing is pretty well restored back to the natural sand dune,” he said. According to Mr. Newman, the park office has been working to keep the dunes in place for a number of years, but he said no one really knows the exact date of the stabilization program’s origin. A stabilization project of some sort has been going on since the 1800s, he said. When the fort was in service, he said, the military put up brush piles to stabilize the dunes, and in the 1940s Carteret Community College also did a lot of dune stabilization projects for the area. About seven to 10 years ago landfills no longer could take Christmas trees, so the park began using them in the dune stabilization project, Mr. Newman said. “We don’t want our roads to be covered (by sand) and we don’t want the dunes to be moving around,” he said. “With all the (park) facilities around we want to keep the dunes in place. It (the project) serves that purpose.” However, the rangers will only take trees from individuals and not leftovers from Christmas tree businesses – there is just not enough manpower or space for them all. According to Cleta Buck, office assistant at the park, the project receives anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 trees each year from individuals alone. If there are eight Christmas tree businesses in the area that want to donate trees and each one has 1,000, it would overwhelm the staff, she said. “We really don’t have enough staff to put them out or enough places to put them,” she said. “If we accept trees from one business we would have to accept them from every business.”