New Jersey Beaches, anyone?

Image courtesy of Len Pietrafesa: Groins built at right angles to the shore at Cape May, New Jersey, ostensibly to slow the migration of sand. The groins interrupt the flow of longshore currents, so sand is trapped on their upcurrent sides. This view is toward the south, and south of the groins, on the downcurrent sides. The effect of the groins is that sand is eroded away from the beaches.

We've blogged this before. Unfortunately, when it comes to coastal management, it's like a broken record over at the General Assembly. Even though scientists, environmental groups, and the state environmental agency DENR have expressed opposition to the use of "hardened" structures - jetties, sea walls, terminal groins - on the North Carolina coast, the indecent proposal comes up year after year.

The most recent legislation, SB 832, just passed out of the Senate.

Let's review:
  • Jetties and groins beget more jetties and groins (take a look at the picture)
  • Hardened structures protect buildings where they are located, but exponentially increase erosion on adjacent properties or islands.
  • We manage our beaches pretty well here in NC. SB 832 will punch a hole in our sound, science-based coastal management policies.
  • We need a more comprehensive look at how to deal with sea level rise, especially in light of climate change projections for the coast (interactive sea level map, EPA 2030 projections). We need beach management that doesn't reflexively call for hardened structures.

The natural beauty and economic value of North Carolina’s public beaches and inlets exists today in large measure because our state leaders long ago adopted a conservative management policy that bans the use of hardened structures—seawalls, jetties and groins of any kind—from our coast.

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