The Sunday, Jan. 26 story “Dredging for Dollars” by Brad Rich appearing in the Carteret County News-Times provides proof that both the state and Carteret County have gotten an excellent ROI, return on investment, from the county’s beach commission.

Mr. Rich’s story provides excellent details of the financial impact of 18 years of beach nourishment effort on the Bogue Banks beaches and the subsequent revenues that have accrued to the state, region and county.

Since 2001, federal, state and local expenses on beach nourishment projects, with a few harbor projects added, amount to just over $144 million. Comparing that number with current property valuations of $5.5 billion, (yes that is billion with a ‘B’), and the residual ad valorem tax revenue that is generated annually of $17 million per year, the subsequent 18-year investment of $144 million for beach nourishment is an excellent ROI.  If amortized over the 18 years as an annual expense the beach nourishment investment amounts to $8 million annually.

There are other financial benefits noted in the story as well, such as the financial impact of the tourist industry that benefits from our nourished beaches.  According to Tom Kies, Carteret County Chamber of Commerce President, the beaches provide a strong tourist attraction and that tourist industry provides over 3,000 jobs in the county. Using visitor expenditure data, the N.C. Department of Commerce estimated the value of the tourism industry for the county to be $377 million just in 2018 alone.

All of these revenue numbers are impressive when considering they originated from a 25-mile barrier island of approximately 100 square miles - a small sliver of land that makes up only seven per cent of the county’s total land mass.

The other impressive fact described in the Sunday newspaper article is that only 38 per cent of the $144 million expenditures came from county funds. The remainder came from federal dollars (52 per cent) and state support (10 per cent). There is concern that the federal funding may not last, which is something that the beach municipalities and the county will have to contend with in the future.

But for now, the county’s beach commission is to be applauded for being so attentive in pressing the case for federal and state support.

Missing in this story was the subjective value of these “sand dollars” for nourishing our beaches and maintaining our waterways, a value that is hard to quantify but definitely deserving recognition.

Because our county has worked diligently to protect our beach communities, we benefit from a strong relationship with businesses and individuals who enjoy our attractive and stable barrier island. The results of that strong relationship offer additional incentive to invest time and energy to preserve the county’s culture and to provide services that might not ordinarily be found in a county of 67,000 permanent residents.

Cultural facilities such as the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, the N.C. Maritime Museum, the History Place in Morehead City, Fort Macon and the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores are just a few of the many residual beneficiaries as a result of the efforts to maintain and strengthen the Bogue Banks beaches. And then there are the indirect benefits for our public services, such as schools that have consistently ranked in the top 10 in the state.

All of these subjective benefits in turn improve the quality of life component of both the region and the state, which likewise provide a sales point for both personal and business investment. In the years to come, as industry and the workforce become more mobile due to technological developments, quality of life issues will be even more important in attracting investment and people.

It is these residual benefits that are hard to measure, but they are real and their impacts are already being felt in the county, the region and the state.

In the future, businesses and families considering relocating to North Carolina will take stock of what natural amenities are available. One of those key amenities will be beaches and waterways that are readily accessible as we currently enjoy here.

If the county beach commission along with the beach communities and county government will continue to pursue beach nourishment and maintenance, the future is bright for not only Carteret County but the entire state as well.

(7) comments


This will increasingly become a difficult issue to defend when the next storm and the next storm wreak havoc along the coast. Taxation (supposedly despised by Republicans) has its limits.


The only good investment beach nourishment is for homeowners that foolishly build mansions on a sandbar. Not a great investment for taxpayers that had sense enough not to. As stated above, when that big storm finally blows down those banks and wipes stuff clean, then we'll have to pay to build them all over again.

David Collins

Great return on investment . You bet ! The local investment , a term that is quite misleading , is quite small . Taxpayers all over the country are contributing to this quixotic exercise in futility without knowing so . Their investment has no return for them . Their money is literally being tossed into the sea . All this frantic rhetoric about climate change and sea level rise due to use of fossil fuels and what do we do ? Bring in big dredges and earth moving equipment and burn through tons of the stuff . The pollution footprint has to be huge . Have wondered why all the tadpole kissers out there have never protested the the destruction of a pristine beach in order to build a designer beach for tourism . Ironic . All to save ocean front residences that are vacant most of the year and never should have been built in the first place . At least not with the expectations of being propped up with other people’s money . Enough said .


If the beaches were more accessible there might be more support. Living in the County and having to pay to park and struggle to find access is ridiculous. Personally I would rather see more funding for Soundside access, boat ramps and fishing piers than sand for property owners who strive to keep us away.


We must all use our dollars to help the rich maintain their lavish lifestyles. There are more of us than the rich. But that is changing locally. Gentrification indeed.

David Collins

It does appear that way .


Why would anyone think building on sand is a good idea? Replacing sand continuously, to benefit the few, is an exercise in futility. But it is only money and we are only trillions in debt in this nation. If each second represented a dollar, it would take 3200 years to pay off one trillion. We are over 16 trillion in debt. Let that sink in. Yea, money for beach nourishment, no big deal.

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