Terminal groins

Claudia Durand

Bald Head Island sits on the East side of the Cape Fear River – at the confluence of the river and the Atlantic ocean.  It is one of the wealthier municipalities within Brunswick County.  Only accessible by ferry, Bald Head Island’s popular reputation is that of an island playground for the affluent.  Golf carts, bicycles, and feet are the primary means of on-island transportation.  And although it’s largely a place of second homes, with the human population peaking in the summer months, estimates of the number of year-round residents range from 160 to 220 people. 

http://www.figure8island.com/

http://www.figure8island.com/


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.

Village at Bald Head Island

The comment period for a terminal groin proposal at Bald Head Island is now open.  If approved, this could lead to the construction of the first terminal groin in North Carolina since lawmakers legalized such structures in 2011.  

A terminal groin is a hardened structure which controls sand flow so as to rebuild beaches.  Mike Giles of the North Carolina Coastal Federation says if the island installs such a structure, they should remove the existing groin field made up of smaller, sand-filled tubes that slow down erosion:

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.

Dr. Robert Parr

The Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013 has now passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and is headed to the Governor’s desk. 

This article was modified to correct the terminal groins cap retained in the most recent version of the bill.

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

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