The battle continues to brew over building a terminal groin on Figure Eight Island. The homeowners association said building the groin, a long rocky wall along the beach intended to prevent erosion, is needed, but environmentalists said it would destroy Rich Inlet.
"A [terminal groin] would destroy critical habitats for birds and fish and would destroy critical habitats for people," NC Coastal Federation Advocate Mike Giles said as he showed a group of people around the inlet.
Giles and other interested members of the community visited Rich Inlet by boat on Friday, which is the only way the public can access the island.
Giles expressed concern that the groin would actually do more harm than good.
"This is the most stable inlet in North Carolina. Why mess with what's working?"
Tammi Pitts and her family lives near the island and wanted to come along with Giles and the North Carolina Coastal Federation to see what they predict would happen if the groin is constructed.
"Basically this would all go away," She said as she watched a seagull fly overhead. "The beach gone and the birds wouldn't have anywhere to go. It would make me sad, really sad."
Giles told the group visiting the inlet that the groin would pull sand away from Rich Inlet and push it towards the location the Homeowners Association is trying to replenish with sand at the expense of animal habitats, some of which are endangered.
However, HOA spokesman David Kellam claimed, "there's no indication from any preliminary draft that shows any significant change to Rich Inlet."
Kellam said building the terminal groin is crucial to the island and despite concerns about building more groins in the future, he said their long-term plan only includes the one.
"We have a 2,200 feet sea wall made of sand bags. The terminal groin would ensure that we do not have to build sand bag sea walls along the coast. We want our coast to be natural. We want our beaches to be natural. A terminal groin should eliminate the need for our 2,200 feet sea wall that currently exists on Figure Eight."
Kellam said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects to release their final report near the end of October. At which point, the public would be able to voice any concerns or questions they have about the project.
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