NC - Long-Term Plans Ahead for Shifting Sands

MANTEO — From beach nourishment to channel dredging to erosion control to material disposal to shoreline preservation, sand management in coastal North Carolina communities is no longer a sporadic chore.

It is an engineering challenge, a ballooning expense, a bureaucratic headache, an evolving menace.

With rapidly changing coastal dynamics, it is also a necessity and, increasingly, a blessing.

Long-term planning for projects — whether permitting or designing — that would replace, preserve, move and/or remove sand is currently underway or about to be implemented at local, state and federal levels in North Carolina.

Even the National Park Service on the Outer Banks — once a strict advocate of beach management policies that “let nature take its course” — has taken a proactive approach with its first-ever Sediment Management Framework. The document is intended to guide the National Seashore in addressing project requests while minimizing impacts on the natural resources.

“What this plan is all about is looking at a framework so that when others come to us … (it) allows us to respond to those partners,” National Seashore Superintendent Dave Hallac said in a recent interview.

Under the preferred alternative in the proposed action, which is expected to be finalized this spring, permitted activities could under certain conditions and limitations include soundside and oceanside beach nourishment and filling island breaches.

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