Sunset Beach hopes to help environment with living shoreline project

Sunset Beach hopes to help environment with living shoreline project

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The Town of Sunset Beach is finding ways to adapt to climate change.

With beach communities counting on tourism to help pay the bills, protecting the environment is a top priority.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation teamed up with Sunset Beach to start a living shoreline project. It’s essentially a man-made barrier reef of 3,000 bags of oysters and rocks piled on each other along the beach.

“People are trying to plan for the future and look at alternatives and trying to not stop sea level change, but trying to adapt to it,” NC Coastal Federation Education Coordinator Ted Wilgis said.

Slowing down beach erosion is one of the main goals. While oysters are able to cure an appetite, they also have environmental benefits.

“They filter the water because they are filter feeders," Wilgis said. “They provide very important habitat. They’re also important for both a wild fishery and a farm fishery.”

Eighty volunteers showed up Thursday to get the job done. Placing bags of rocks and oysters was a job for the volunteers, but what’s next is planting dozens of oyster domes on another side of the waterfront park. The domes, a bit heavier and larger in structure, are designed for the bigger waves and big storms but provide the same habitat benefits.

Sunset Beach council member John Corbett says this is one of many projects. Others include raising roads and bulkheads to adapt to rising sea levels.

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