NC Coastal Federation wraps up Atlantic Harbor shoreline project with plantings

Newly planted vegetation grows just landward of a new sill around White Point, which protects Atlantic Harbor. (N.C. Coastal Federation photo)

ATLANTIC — The N.C. Coastal Federation has finished planting 70,198 grasses landward of the new living shoreline at Atlantic Harbor, concluding a joint project with Carteret County that also included dredging the channel to the harbor.

Dr. Lexia Weaver, coastal scientist and manager of the federation’s central regional office in Ocean, said the work Down East went well.

“The site was very amenable to planting and we’re hopeful (the plants) will take off,” she said Friday. “We may have to come back and do some replanting, but you never know. We might not need to.”

Greg Rudolph, manager of the County Shore Protection Office, agreed.

“We’re thrilled,” he added Friday in an email. “That was a complex project … and as a whole so far has been successful. The dredging/navigation maintenance component was sorely, sorely needed and provided relief to watermen.

The landing for dredge spoils, White Island, was refurbished, the sandbags removed and the area contoured, he continued.

“The granite armor stones and wave attenuators were carefully designed and installed and are doing their job protecting White Point,” Mr. Rudolph said.

Attenuators reduce the energy of waves and together with the living shoreline, should ease the erosion of White Point, which protects the harbor, as well as limit silting of the harbor.

Finally, Mr. Rudolph said native plant species appropriate for specific elevations were placed all around the point.

“We’re very pleased we were able to partner with the NCCF on this project,” he added. “They brought a lot to the table, not just funding-wise, but in terms of their expertise and fieldwork as well. Navigation, shoreline protection, and habitat conservation and improvement – this project had it all.”

The federation, in a news release, said “Fishing boats are now able to enter and exit the harbor without as many water-depth issues, allowing this small fishing community to thrive, economically.”

The project was funded in part by the N.C. Department of Justice Environmental Enhancement Grant Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Coastal Resilience Fund.

The coastal federation paid for about half of the total project cost of more than $2 million because the rock sill and marsh plants will provide habitat for juvenile marine species, including oyster larvae, which attach to rocks. The federation’s funds came from a $1.1 million grant it obtained in 2018 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to build living shorelines.

The state also kicked in money from its Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund, which receives money from boat fuel taxes and boat license and title fees.

Carteret County’s total share of the cost was about $200,000.

The dredging work was done first, beginning in April 2020, followed by the installation of the rocks for the living shoreline and placement of the wave attenuators. That work wrapped up in September. The planting was the last phase.

The late Jonathan Robinson of Atlantic, who for many years represented Down East, among other areas, on the County Board of Commissioners, was a big supporter of project after years of piecemeal efforts to keep the harbor safe.

 

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

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