YOU CANNOT HAVE a beach town without a beach. And, you cannot have a beach without sand.
Maintaining healthy beaches through a well-planned beach nourishment program is critical for Atlantic Beach and all of Bogue Banks. As such, it is an issue I stay closely involved with as mayor of Atlantic Beach and chairman of the Carteret County Beach Commission. Fortunately, thanks to the work of my predecessors in AB and on the Beach Commission, Bogue Banks has created an effective model for sand management that is being copied elsewhere on the North Carolina coast.
Despite proactive long-range planning and significant local investment, a changing landscape of federal funding as well as state and federal regulations is causing us to consider different ways of making sure that there is ample sand on our beaches to provide recreational options for everyone and to protect us against storms. Over the course of the next few issues of the Island Review, I will provide a brief history of beach nourishment in Atlantic Beach, explain how changes in what the state and federal government does will affect us, and lay out our plan for beach nourishment in the near and distant future.
According to Capt. Jim Willis, our resident “Banksologist” and the person who has lived in Atlantic Beach longer than anyone, the first push for beach nourishment in Atlantic Beach came from the residents of the Club Colony neighborhood who, with Capt. Jim’s help, lobbied our Congressman Walter Jones, Sr. in the 1970s to make beneficial use of the sand being dredged from the Beaufort Inlet by the US Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”). These efforts led to a Dredged Materials Management Plan that guided beach disposal of sand dredged from the Beaufort Inlet as well as the harbor of the State Port in Morehead City. Starting in 1979 some sand was placed directly on the beach from inlet dredging while other sand was stored on Brandt Island – the dredged materials storage island on the sound side of Atlantic Beach – and periodically pumped out and placed along the beaches of Atlantic Beach (see attached map).
Since this nourishment was a byproduct of a federal navigation project (maintaining the Beaufort Inlet for use by ships going to and from the port) the cost of the dredging and placement of the sand was covered by the Corps of Engineers and few local property tax dollars were needed in Atlantic Beach. But, not all sand dredged out of the inlet has been placed on our beach. The Corps is only required to place sand on the beaches when doing so is the least expensive way of maintaining the navigation channel. In the language of the federal government, this is the “least cost disposal method.” This least cost requirement as well as the navigation purpose of the dredging have been the keys to Atlantic Beach receiving sand without having to contribute local property tax dollars to the effort.
As I will cover next month, changes in federal and state regulations will impact how we work with the Corps in the future. Particularly with regards to placing sand on the beaches of Atlantic Beach that are west of the Circle. Stay tuned.