Pine Knoll Shores officials pitch $3.2M living shoreline initiative to residents

Pine Knoll Shores town manager Brian Kramer, left, and N.C. Coastal Federation coastal scientist Dr. Lexia Weaver, far right, show residents Wednesday the living shoreline installed in May at the end of a walking trail behind town hall. The town is exploring options to fund living shoreline along the entire sound side of town. (Mike Shutak photo)

PINE KNOLL SHORES — The living shoreline behind Pine Knoll Shores Town Hall was just the beginning – officials would like to extend the shoreline along the sound side of Bogue Banks to both ends of town, but they’ll need community buy-in to do so.  

Town staff gave a virtual presentation on the initiative via Webinar Wednesday morning. Town manager Brian Kramer and N.C. Coastal Federation coastal scientist Dr. Lexia Weaver informed participants the town is pursuing a Federal Emergency Management Agency Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, grant to fund living shoreline installation along the entire sound side shoreline.

The town has been discussing the BRIC funding since at least September.

Mr. Kramer said the N.C. Department of Public Safety is administering the grant on FEMA’s behalf, and it would require a 25% match through non-federal sources.

“Resilience is a buzzword that means being ready for storms,” Mr. Kramer said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”

He went on to say town officials will submit a letter of interest to the NCDPS by Friday, and the department will announce Friday, Oct. 15 which governments qualify for submission to FEMA.

“The letter of intent isn’t a formal grant application,” Mr. Kramer said. “It doesn’t obligate us to anything…and it doesn’t make a decision on the non-federal fund options.”

The town is pursuing a $3.2 million award, which the manager estimated would fund installing living shorelines along half the single-family and multi-family properties in the proposed site. If the program proves successful, town officials will pursue further funding to continues the effort.  

Of the $3.2 million, $800,000 will have to be from non-federal sources. Among the options available to town officials are splitting the cost with property owners, asking property owners to cover all the non-federal associated cost or splitting it in a manner similar to the town’s sand tax. He stressed that property owner participation in the program will be voluntary.

“If we’re approved for this grant…I don’t see the board of commissioners approving a tax increase for this project,” Mr. Kramer said.

The town partnered with the NCCF in May to install a living shoreline at the end of the walking trail behind town hall.

Dr. Weaver said living shorelines are an environmentally friendly, coast-effective alternative to bulkheads to protect shorelines from erosion. They use marsh grasses and oyster sills to secure sediment and reduce wave action, while simultaneously protecting and restoring salt marsh habitat.

“Erosion is a natural occurrence,” Dr. Weaver said, “but it’s increased in the last few years due to increased hurricanes and tropical storms, as well as human activity.”

Dr. Weaver said the traditional response to eroding shorelines is to install a bulkhead; however, bulkheads are expensive and prevent marsh grasses from migrating inland as waters rise. This causes wave action to pull sand and sediment away from the shoreline beyond the bulkhead.

After the online presentation, officials took participants who came to town hall to see the living shoreline.

“We did 460 feet of oyster bag sill and marsh planting,” Dr. Weaver said. “It’s a great habitat for fish and crabs. We’re trying to mimic what you find in nature.”

Among those who came out to see the shoreline Wednesday was Oakleaf Drive resident Mike DiLauro. While not a waterfront property owner, Mr. DiLauro said he has “a beautiful view of the water” and thinks the property owners across the street from him will find the effort interesting.

“I think this is a good thing,” he said. “Living shorelines, I’ve seen them when I’ve kayaked. They’re beautiful and they do the job with (preventing) erosion.”

Cypress Drive resident Liz Mauser also liked the proposed program. While not a waterfront property owner herself, Ms. Mauser said she lived in one of the oldest homes in Pine Knoll Shores.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea to preserve what’s here,” she said. “We’re looking forward to having as much protected shoreline as we can.”

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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