CoastLine: Figure 8 Island Terminal Groin Debate

Jan 27, 2016

It was just last month that Bald Head Island completed the installation of the first terminal groin in North Carolina since the state lifted the ban on hardened structures several years ago.  Three other beach communities are seeking permits for their own structures; Figure Eight Island in New Hanover County, and Holden and Ocean Isle Beaches, both in Brunswick County, also want a terminal groin to trap sand, slow erosion, and lessen the frequency of expensive beach nourishment projects. 

But some environmental advocates argue Bald Head Island is an outlier; because it’s adjacent to an active shipping channel, it battles accelerated erosion from non-natural causes. 

Opponents of the Figure Eight project say a terminal groin at the north end of the Island would cause the sandy spit at Rich Inlet to disappear – eliminating a heavily-used public recreation area and important habitat for threatened species.   Supporters say the structure would preserve millions of dollars worth of real estate and infrastructure. 

According to regulatory officials, Figure Eight Island is within months of a permit decision from the Army Corps of Engineers.

On this edition of CoastLine, we explore the questions around the proposal and what is at stake on both sides of the debate. 

Guests:

Geoff Gisler, Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center, representing the North Carolina Coastal Federation and Audubon North Carolina -- both opposed to a terminal groin at Figure Eight

David Kellam, Administrator of the Figure Eight Island Homeowners’ Association, the organization seeking the permit for a terminal groin