A shot of the south ferry docks on Ocracoke Island after Florence in 2018. via National Park Service

NC - NPS Outlines the Preferred Option for Future Sediment Management in Public Meetings Held This Week

The National Park Service held informational webinars this week to discuss the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a 20-year sediment management framework for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS), and to solicit the public’s feedback on the preferred plan for future beach nourishment, dune restoration, and breach repair projects.

“This is a very dynamic place [with] erosion rates of up to 10 feet per year,” said National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent David Hallac at Wednesday’s meeting, noting that the Outer Banks had some of the highest erosion rates on the East Coast. “…That’s a good lead into our sediment management framework, and why we’re meeting today.”

Natural accretion and erosion processes have impacted the Hatteras and Ocracoke island shorelines for decades due to anthropogenic activities, (like dune building, dune planting, inlet dredging, and dune maintenance), as well as other factors, like sea level rise.

As such, sediment management efforts have been utilized along the shoreline to control erosion and stabilize sand dunes for decades, from active dune building in the 1930s-1960s, to recent beach nourishment projects in the past few years.

Since the 1970s, localized beach nourishment has been the primary method of combating shoreline erosion, but so far, it has been restricted to Ocracoke Island, the Buxton area, and Rodanthe. In some places, segments of the beach are relatively stable, and natural processes maintain a line of strong sand dunes. In other hot spots on the islands, however, erosion of the shoreline has resulted in the semi-regular overwash of N.C. Highway 12, as well as adjacent communities.

So in order to provide a faster way to address these erosion-related project requests, the National Park Service first published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register on April 10 to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for sediment management within the National Seashore.

The purpose of the EIS is to develop a streamlined framework for implementing sediment management projects, which includes the method, location, and frequency for sediment management actions that may be permitted over the next 20 years.

CHNS has received various requests, (and anticipate future requests), to issue special use permits for protecting roads and bridges, repairing island damages, and restoring habitats through the placement of dredged materials along eroded sections of the barrier islands.

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