EMERALD ISLE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday it has approved a $44 million allocation to bolster the county’s Bogue Banks Beach Master Nourishment Plan, which establishes a schedule, with federal cost-sharing, for nourishing beaches on the island over a 50-year period.
The ACE had already approved the plan, which the county started working on in 2010, but had not until Monday provided any funds for it.
Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, has shepherded the plan, which is the first of its kind in North Carolina, since its inception. He said in an interview Tuesday he is grateful for the money.
“We weren’t expecting it, quite frankly, but we’re obviously glad to get it,” he said. “We hope we can put the money in the bank and use it when we need it.”
Because it took so long to get the plan approved by the federal agency, the county years ago embarked on its own “interim” master beach nourishment plan, which, like the one approved by the feds, uses measurements and “triggers” to indicate when beaches need to be nourished.
The county has spent millions of dollars – state, federal and local occupancy tax money – on projects all along Bogue Banks, including one for $20.1 million completed last year in eastern Emerald Isle, Indian Beach and most of Salter Path.
Another project under the interim plan – to include beaches in western Atlantic Beach, all of Pine Knoll Shores, a small portion of Salter Path and a portion of western Emerald Isle – is to start next month at a cost of $28.2 million, all paid for by the county and a state allocation.
“We don’t need the (federal) money right away,” Mr. Rudolph said Tuesday of the ACE allocation, which was also hailed Tuesday by North Carolina’s 3rd District Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C.
“We’re basically building the (50-year project) for them,” Mr. Rudolph said. “But as far as the federal project goes, we still have some work to do on our side – easements and parking and access – and they (ACE) still have some work to do, too.
“The Corps project has A LOT more rules of engagement than our one-time, one-storm (Federal Emergency Management Agency) projects,” Mr. Rudolph added in an email.
“We will need to fulfill the Corps parking and access requirements and the Corps has a different easement than we have on record for our oceanfront property owners and both of these requirements will take a lot of work on our part.
“It’s almost diabolical to think about all of this right now – but all really good problems to have,” he concluded.
He said the money is a sign that after years of planning and seeking approval for the master plan, the ACE is committed to it.
In his news release, Rep. Murphy said, “I am pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received $281.5 million to undertake two flood and storm damage reduction projects in the Third District.
“The beautiful beach towns of eastern North Carolina are certainly worth the investment. These projects will make us more resilient for future hurricanes,” he continued.
The majority of the $281.5 million is going to Topsail Beach and Surf City, south of Carteret County, for a nourishment project estimated to cost $237 million.
The Bogue Banks master plan, like the interim plan, uses objective parameters to gauge beach health and trigger future nourishment events for the entire 25-mile long island.
It streamlines the permitting process, identifies long-term sand sources and specifies expected costs and beach and dune construction parameters, all designed to protect the county’s major industry, tourism, and its tax base.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.