Terminal groin expansion worries environmental groups

Terminal groin expansion worries environmental groups
The town of Holden Beach and other coastal towns continue to explore the option of putting a terminal groin along their shore, which has environmental groups like the North Carolina Coastal Federation upset. (Source: NC Coastal Federation)

HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WECT) - The town of Holden Beach and other coastal towns continue to explore the option of putting a terminal groin along their shore, which has environmental groups like the North Carolina Coastal Federation upset.

The Army Corps of Engineers released their final environmental impact statement for the Holden Beach project on March 15 and outlines the specifics of the proposed plan.

Tracy Skrabal, with the North Carolina Coastal Federation, said Bald Head Island is the only beach to currently have terminal groins in the area, but Ocean Isle Beach, Figure 8 Island, and Holden beach all have permits in for consideration after a ban was overturned in 2011.

"When you start to see larger storms of intensity and duration, as we already see, then we will see people get fairly desperate for ways to protect their properties," said Skrabal. "Harden structures are often looked at as a potential solution, which we do not agree with."

Skrabal said terminal groins are often made of stone and rock and placed at the end of beaches in an effort to stop erosion, which she said could be harmful to the ecosystem.

"These really have the potential because of their size and location to damage really critical habitats," she said. "What we also see is that they don't really function for their purpose. They may protect 10, 12, maybe 20 properties, but they can also cause erosion down stream."

The Coastal Federation hopes towns will look into more environmentally friendly methods of conservation.

"Beach nourishment, which is happening right now at Wrightsville Beach is a tried and true method of basically buying time on these dynamic systems," said Skrabal. It functions as intended, which is to move the shoreline out and allow the storms to buffer if you will."

The public can comment in writing on the project through April 16.

Skrabal said she hopes the community educates themselves what ever side of the issue they fall.

"At Holden Beach, maybe you get protection for 10 to 20 properties on the east side of the island at an expense of 30 to 40 million dollars over the next 30 years with no guarantees," she said. "There is potential for harm to the natural ecosystem, to our natural beach access as property owners and visitors, and for erosion on the other side of the inlet."

WECT reached out to Holden Beach leaders for a comment on the project but have not heard back.

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