Feds finalize permitting of future beach nourishment, erosion control measures in Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Work on the Buxton beach nourishment project in June 2017. [photo courtesy Cape Hatteras Motel]

Officials with the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have signed an agreement on how to proceed with requests for erosion control measures deemed necessary to protect roads, homes and businesses from rapidly eroding ocean and sound side areas of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The plan essentially streamlines the process for the next 20 years of approving work by Dare and Hyde counties, the N.C. Department of Transportation, or other state and local agencies, on projects such as beach nourishment in front of the Hatteras Island villages, sandbags and rebuilding of dunes to protect N.C. 12, and other work like the bulkhead and rock groin under construction at the ferry dock on the north end of Ocracoke Island.

National Park Service South Atlantic-Gulf Regional Director Stan Austin and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director Leopoldo Miranda-Castro signed on Wednesday a Record of Decision for a Sediment Management Framework Environmental Impact Statement at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Additionally, a Special Use Permit application and approval process detailing how the Seashore will review, issue and manage permits for larger-scale sediment management activities was developed under the framework.

Sediment management activities, like beach nourishment, will generally not be permitted under the plan along approximately 13 noncontiguous miles of beach set aside for monitoring.

A large portion of that area is between Salvo and Avon, where beach width and lack of vulnerable infrastructure indicate a low potential for requests to manage sediment.

“We thank the following cooperating agencies: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District Regulatory and Planning divisions, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry and Highway divisions, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Dare County and Hyde County,” said David Hallac, superintendent, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina.

“Their assistance in developing this plan will allow our partners to protect important community infrastructure while avoiding and minimizing impacts to the resources of Cape Hatteras National Seashore,” Hallac said. “We also appreciate the time that many individuals and organizations took to review the plan and provide helpful comments and recommendations.”

The Record of Decision explains the decision, describes the selected alternative and documents public and agency involvement in the decision-making process.

The issuance of the ROD for the Sediment Management Framework EIS is the final step in the National Environmental Policy Act process.

To view the ROD, EIS and associated documents, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/CAHAsediment.

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