Figure Eight Island

This broadcast of CoastLine originally aired on March 11, 2015. 

Terminal groins are hardened structures designed to control the movement of sand and slow erosion on beaches. 

Until just a few years ago, these structures were not legal in North Carolina.  But in 2011, the Legislature lifted the ban to allow four such structures – along with a host of caveats. 

Terminal groins are hardened structures that jut into the ocean with the aim of preventing beach erosion. The construction of one is in progress, and three other local coastal communities are pursuing permits. Yet oceanfront officials and environmentalists disagree on the costs and benefits.

An amendment to the Coastal Area Management Act allows for up to four new terminal groins in North Carolina, and all four projects are slated for the Cape Fear region.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The decision to issue a permit for a terminal groin at the northern end of Figure Eight Island will be closely watched by environmentalists and three other nearby island communities – who are each hoping for their own erosion-control device.

Dr. Robert Parr

Update: The Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013 has passed its second reading in the House.

This article was modified to reflect a correction.  The cap on the number of terminal groins allowed in the state, according to the most recent version of the Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013, is four.

Today, state leaders in the House could consider a bill that would ease financial requirements for beach communities looking to install a terminal groin.