Feds approve sand pumping for northern Outer Banks town beach nourishment in 2022

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Another piece of the complex beach nourishment puzzle has been put in place, as federal regulators have granted approval to four northern Outer Banks towns to have sand from offshore pumped onto their beaches starting next spring.

As part of its efforts to support local economies and protect coastal communities and habitats from the impacts of climate change, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has executed an agreement with Dare County, granting access to up to 6.6 million cubic yards of sand from the Outer Continental Shelf to restore 11.6 miles of beaches off Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills.

The project is designed to protect local infrastructure and property, restore the beaches, and prepare for more rapid recovery from storms.

“BOEM is proud to work with Dare County to provide valuable sand resources to improve coastal resilience, protect coastal infrastructure, and provide recreational opportunities for surrounding communities,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton.

Exact dates for the nourishment projects have not been set, so it is still too early to know when workers and equipment will be along a specific section of Outer Banks beach.

The latest updates will be posted on Dare County’s beach nourishment information website, MoreBeachToLove.com.

Weeks Marine submitted a bid of $27,932,050 for the sand pumping projects from Duck to Kill Devil Hills. The same company ran into numerous mechanical and weather delays while widening the beaches from The Haulover to the old Coast Guard base in Buxton between 2017 and 2018.

A combination of funding for the projects will come from funds set aside for beach nourishment from the county’s occupancy tax on hotel/motel room and vacation property rentals, along with a portion of property taxes assessed in the four towns that have been designated to beach nourishment.

The towns will have to come up with just under $12 million combined, while the county’s beach nourishment fund contribution will be just over $8.7 million, and there are grants of $11.7 million from FEMA and the state.

Great Lakes Dock and Dredge Co. bid $25,870,000 for projects along Avon and Buxton, while an announcement on the bids for the South Nags Head project are expected in the next few days.

Dare County will use occupancy and property tax funds to pay for the Avon project, a first for the beach stretching from Due East Road to the Ramp 38 area.

The sand lost from previous beach widening from the Haulover to the old Coast Guard base in Buxton, and South Nags Head from Jennette’s Pier to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore border, was determined to have been caused by recent hurricanes, making the projects eligible for federal and state disaster relief funds.

Approval from BOEM for the Avon, Buxton and South Nags Head projects are still pending.

Beaches on the Outer Banks help drive the economy in Dare County, where the year-round population of 37,000 swells to 225,000 to 300,000 at times during summer months. Tourism and outdoor recreation account for $1.4 billion in direct spending in Dare County.

More frequent and powerful storms along the coastal United States coupled with sea level rise have led to greater demand for offshore sand resources that can be used to restore and protect coastal communities and habitats. BOEM partners with coastal communities like Dare County to address serious threats from erosion along the Nation’s coastal beaches, dunes, barrier islands, and wetlands.

BOEM has sole authority to convey Outer Continental Shelf sand resources for shoreline resilience and beach or wetland restoration projects undertaken by federal, state, or local governments. BOEM uses the findings of more than 30 years of scientific research to inform its leasing decisions.

The final Environmental Assessment and related documents are available on BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program’s North Carolina project page.

For more information about BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program, visit the website, http://www.boem.gov/Marine-Minerals-Program/.