Coastal advocate cautions against President Trump's proposed budget cuts

Updated: Mar. 10, 2017 at 6:26 PM EST
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - Then-candidate Donald Trump told WECT's Jon Evans, if elected, his administration would protect our beaches. But President Trump's proposed plans strike a different tone.

The Washington Post reports the president's proposed budget cuts would slash nearly 20% off the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Within the NOAA, several grants could be on the chopping block that benefit coastal towns.

"What's more important, our coastal communities or a little bit more defense?" asked Mike Giles, a coastal advocate for the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

Grants like ones from the Coastal Zone Management Act bring in millions of dollars to prepare coastal communities for the next big storm. Without them, Giles fears for the future of our coasts.

"The state won't be able to do their job in helping the local communities do their job in protecting the millions upon millions and possibly billions of dollars of coastal infrastructure," said Giles.

Drive along Wrightsville Beach, the sandy infrastructure is hard to miss. "You have a real beautiful dune system that's vegetated in front of these houses," said Giles. "That's their buffer."

On a calm March afternoon, that buffer separated homes from harmless waves. But if Hurricane Matthew taught the community anything, these conditions could change in a matter of hours. "People's lives, people's homes, people's livelihoods are at risk at the coast if we don't start working together better and planning better," said Giles.

Giles wants beach towns to make a commitment to the coast but said having a federal government take away funding doesn't help. If the federal government chooses to continue with the proposed cuts, Giles warns it will be a lesson we won't want to learn.

"Without that help, it's pretty dire consequences for our coast," said Giles.

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