EMERALD ISLE — Crews from EarthBalance, a Florida-based company, began hand-planting the first of about 500,000 pieces of vegetation Thursday on new dunes created in the recently completed $31.6 million Emerald Isle beach nourishment project.
Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, said in an email Thursday the effort is expected to take about a month, working west to east along a 9.4-mile stretch of the strand on Bogue Banks.
He said beachgoers are urged to stay off the dunes, and oceanfront property owners should not put up sand fences on the beach until the planting is finished.
EarthBalance performed some reconnaissance Wednesday – scoping out places to park overnight and finding the water hook-ups put in place by the beach nourishment contractor, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Illinois – then got to work early Thursday morning.
Mr. Rudolph said the vegetation will be planted along about 6.4 miles of the project area, excluding a 3-mile stretch in eastern Emerald Isle where planting took place after a nourishment project in 2019.
The vegetation is from cuttings and seedlings of native plants harvested from Emerald Isle in October. They were grown to planting size in a greenhouse.
“They were germinated from either seed (Sea Oats) or cuttings (Bitter Panicum and Seashore Elder) obtained from Emerald Isle and are looking exceptional,” Mr. Rudolph said in an email. “We don’t want to stomp and possibly kill the plants before they have a chance to grow in place.”
The plants are intended to help stabilize the sand on the new dunes, which are crucial for protecting oceanfront property from the high tides of hurricanes in the summer and fall and nor’easters in the winter.
Each plant gets a dose of fertilizer and an initial shot of water. The company will follow up with additional watering. The county’s contract includes a survivability clause that requires replanting if too much of the vegetation dies.
The nourishment project total added 166,350 cubic yards of sand in the extreme western strand off Coast Guard Road, 708,750 cubic yards to the east of that, 537,750 cubic yards in the center of town and 600,000 cubic yards in an erosion hot spot in extreme eastern Emerald Isle.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.