PINE KNOLL SHORES — Bogue Banks’ economically crucial beaches are in good shape, thanks to millions of dollars spent on ongoing beach nourishment efforts, according to a report presented Monday to the Carteret County Beach Commission.
Nicole VanderBeke with the county’s beach engineering firm, Moffatt & Nichol, presented the annual State of the Beach report to the commission during the panel’s monthly meeting in Pine Knoll Shores Town Hall.
Greg Rudolph, manager of the County Shore Protection Office, said the annual report is based on surveys taken for Moffat & Nichol this past spring by Geodynamics, a Newport-based firm.
According to Mr. Rudolph, “the shoreline advanced seaward by 40.6 feet on average across Bogue Banks,” meaning the beach is wider in almost all places.
“That’s not surprising, given the influx of sand … over the past year,” Mr. Rudolph said, referring to a beach nourishment project that added 2 million cubic yards of sand in Atlantic Beach west of The Circle development district, all of Pine Knoll Shores, Salter Path’s beach access site and western Emerald Isle from Sea Dunes to the Land’s End.
“The volume of sand residing along the entire island is significantly higher than our self-determined yardstick year of 1999 and is attributable to the many beach nourishment projects that have been constructed since 2001,” Mr. Rudolph added. “All the island management reaches (segments of beach) are also in excess of our … plan thresholds,” which are used as triggers for nourishment projects.
He did, however, inject a note of caution.
“If we average the volume loss across the entire 24.3 miles of Bogue Banks oceanfront, the island has lost sand at a rate of 3.1 cubic yards per foot, per year since 1999,” he said. “That’s a large jump in the background erosion rate … and again demonstrates the type of impact our Post-Florence renourishment project is having along Bogue Banks.”
The county has spent more than $60 million in occupancy tax money and town funds on beach nourishment since 2001. That figure doesn’t include federal and state money.
The measurement program dates back to 1999, when the county got into beach nourishment in a concerted manner after hurricanes Bertha and Fran in 1996, Bonnie in 1998, Dennis in 1999 and, most notably, Floyd the same year. The monitoring program has grown since then and now includes 122 transects along Bogue Banks in addition to 24 transects along Shackleford Banks and 18 along Bear Island in Onslow County, just across Bogue Inlet from Emerald Isle.
“If we compare the 2020 survey to (2019) … we are capturing all of the events/storms that transpired during this yearlong time period and their impacts to … volume change and shoreline change,” Mr. Rudolph said in the email.
He said some storms, such as hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Dorian in 2019, actually move sand to the beach from the nearshore ocean. However, Hurricane Florence in 2018 moved about 3.5 million cubic yards of sand from the beaches into the nearshore ocean.
The report from the engineers shows much of that sand – maybe as much as 1 million cubic yards – returned to locations close enough to the beach in 2020 to be counted as a credit to the volume of sand on the beach.
Altogether, Mr. Rudolph said, the report shows that since 1999, Bogue Banks has gained roughly 9.1 million cubic yards of sand.
“A total of approximately 17.5 million cubic yards of sand have been placed directly on Bogue Banks as a result of beach nourishment, meaning 8.4 million cubic yards have since eroded off the beach,” he said in the email.
Once finalized, the 2020 State of the Beach report will be available online at protectthebeach.com.
Reporter’s note: The News-Times was not present for Monday’s meeting of the Carteret County Beach Commission.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email [email protected]; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.