Examples of Beach Hardening in NC: Fort Fisher

SB 832 is causing a lot of worries at the coast (forum at the Wilmington Star News). Proponents of the bill are characterizing it as a modest change in state law to help coastal communities facing erosion. Not so.

Importantly, the law already recognizes limited exceptions may be needed to stabilize commercial navigational channels of regional significance (Beaufort Inlet, Cape Fear Inlet and Oregon Inlet); erosion threatened bridges (Bonner Bridge); and historic sites of national significance (Fort Fisher and Fort Macon).

But even these projects have since caused problems downdrift from the structure. Take this passage about Fort Fisher, from Exploring North Carolina's Natural Areas by UNC Press. The passage was authored by Dirk Frankenberg, of the Marine Sciences Program at UNC-Chapel Hill:

The aquarium's hurricane flood tower should be kept in mind as you drive down the exit road and see the tall (and to my eye, incredibly ugly) sand barricade bulldozed to protect the bathhouse parking lot and US 421 south of Fort Fisher State Park. This sand pile was made necessary by beach retreat on the south side of a beach-hardening project designed to protect Fort Fisher's seaward ramparts from shorefront erosion...if you want to see what happens to beaches downstream of erosion control structures, park at the bathhouse and walk out on the beach to the north. There you will see the stone erosion control structure with the beach about 200 to 500 feet back from its prestructure location. Publicly owned beach and dune have been eroded away, perhaps in a justifiable trade for protected ramparts, but only time will tell the full environmental cost of the deal.

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