EMERALD ISLE — County officials are making progress toward starting long-planned dredging projects in Atlantic Harbor in Atlantic, East Taylor’s Creek in Beaufort and Old Ferry Channel near Cape Carteret.

Greg Rudolph, manager of the County Shore Protection Office, which plans and oversees dredging projects, said Friday he should soon be ready to submit permit applications for all three. He discussed them in an email to the News-Times and members of the Carteret County Beach Commission, which advises his office, and in an interview.

Atlantic Harbor

“We have been working to find an upland dredge disposal area for muddy and sandy sediments shoaling … Atlantic Harbor, encompassing the Harbor of Refuge itself and part of the Entrance Channel, and are poised to submit the (Coastal Area Management Act) Major Permit Application and requisite environmental materials,” Mr. Rudolph said in the email. “Our hope is to have all appropriate permits/authorizations secured by sometime in the fall/winter 2019-20.”

The harbor for many years was maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the funds have dried up, according to Mr. Rudolph, and the work has long been needed.

In fact, the harbor has become so problematic that “we conducted an emergency dredging event at Atlantic Harbor during the summer of 2018 under the auspices of N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s General Permit process.” That allowed removal of up to 1,000 cubic yards of material.

“Our final dredging and disposal plan for Atlantic Harbor includes the removal of approximately 13,200 cubic yards from the Harbor and Entrance Channel, in addition to the construction of 1,720 linear feet of living shoreline around the entire periphery of the White Point Dredged Material Placement Facility,” he added.

The work is expected to stabilize the White Point shoreline with the placement of the dredged material while also promoting the growth of intertidal vegetation along what he called a “historically dynamic shoreline.”

Money for the project will come from the county, the state and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the latter through a grant to the N.C. Coastal Federation, which is interested in the project because it will create habitat for marine life through use of the living shoreline instead of a bulkhead.

The federation, which is engaged in long-term efforts to restore the state’s oyster population, obtained a $1.1 million grant from the foundation last fall.

In a press release at the time, Dr. Lexia Weaver, a coastal scientist with the federation, said, “Living shorelines have proven to be much more effective for erosion control in storms than bulkheads,” and the federation is “happy” to participate in the Atlantic project.

“The harbors are crucial to the communities’ economies and ways of life,” said Dr. Weaver, who will lead the project.

In that same release, Assistant Carteret County Manager Eugene Foxworth agreed.

“This project will go a long way toward protecting Atlantic’s way of life and providing this part of our community with economic stability,” he said. “It also provides valuable habitat for the fish and other seafood we need to prosper.”

The federation press release said the living shoreline will be tailored to the specific site characteristics and will help maintain navigation channels and prevent flooding in addition to creating habitat.

The grant came through the National Coastal Resilience Fund. The grant funds, according to the release, will “support on-the-ground work … by hiring local contractors in order to support the local economy.”

Mr. Rudolph said that at their Monday meeting, Carteret County commissioners will be asked to approve a required resolution and no conflict of interest certification in order to get state money, which will come from the Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund.

He said the county estimates a total project cost of $2.1 million. The state is to match the county funds on a two-to-one basis.

“If this all comes to fruition, the County’s true anticipated exposure should be $205,000,” he said in the email.

“Years ago,” Mr. Rudolph said in the interview, “a hurricane really did a number on the harbor, and we’ve been trying to find a way to deal with that ever since, probably for 15 to 20 years.

“We really appreciate the coastal federation’s help. This should be a win-win for everybody involved.”

East Taylor’s Creek

This project, also in the works for several years, will involve repositioning the channel by removing up to 30,000 cubic yards of material. The county, according to Mr. Rudolph’s email, is working with Atlantic Veneer in hopes of using a portion of the company’s property as the dredge spoil disposal site.

The goal of the project is to make East Taylor’s Creek’s alignment and depth match the rest of Taylor’s Creek in Beaufort.

The county does not yet know how much the project will cost, but officials will apply for a state grant similar to the one being used for Atlantic Harbor work, Mr. Rudolph said.

Old Ferry Channel

“This … is the site of the ferry channel that was in operation from 1961 to 1971 until construction of the B. Cameron Langston Bridge (a.k.a. – the Emerald Isle Bridge) was completed,” Mr. Rudolph wrote in his email. “The channel was originally constructed/dredged under the auspices of W.B. McLean (founding father of Cape Carteret) before the State begun the free ferry service, which utilized three vessels.

“Once ferry services were suspended when the bridge was constructed, the Old Ferry Channel has since been the main navigation thoroughfare for the boating community in the Cape Carteret area, providing access to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) and Bogue Sound,” Mr. Rudolph added. “Maintenance dredging records for the Old Ferry Channel are non-existent however, and it is believed the channel has not been dredged in decades, allowing several areas along the channel to shoal in.”

The county anticipates removing around 15,000 cubic yards of material from the channel.

“We have been working diligently with the property owners to this end,” he said in the email.

As with East Taylor’s Creek, there are not yet any firm cost estimates and the county will seek state money, Mr. Rudolph said.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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