Putting together a plan for the management of North Carolina’s ocean inlets may be an ambitious one, local officials said.
“It’s a tough challenge. Every single inlet is different,” said Carteret County Shore Protection Manager Greg Rudolph.
In the local area alone, there are three inlets with different characteristics.
Beaufort Inlet is maintained as a deep-draft navigation thoroughfare that serves the state port in Morehead City and commercial as well as recreational traffic.
Bogue Inlet near Emerald Isle and Swansboro and New River Inlet off North Topsail Beach are each shallow draft inlets.
Managing inlets is different from management along the oceanfront; and when it comes to dredging requirements and sediment rules there are differences between shallow-draft and the deep-draft inlets, Rudolph said.
Rudolph said coming up with management rules while addressing the differences will be difficult but he likes that all the inlets are being looked at as part of a new, comprehensive review by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission.
As part of the review, a series of public meetings is being held to receive public input from local governments and stakeholders in the areas around the state’s inlets.
The next meetings are scheduled for March 26 at the Ocean Isle Beach Town Hall and April 2 at the New Hanover County Government Center in Wilmington. Both meetings are being held from 6 to 9 p.m.
According to information from the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, the CRC is particularly interested in input on issues such as inlet dredging, channel realignment projects, development standards for inlet areas, beach bulldozing and sandbags, erosion rates in inlet areas and terminal groins.
North Topsail Beach Mayor Dan Tuman said he plans to attend the Wilmington meeting and share information about management efforts at New River Inlet.
The town recently completed a channel realignment and beach nourishment project to stabilize erosion at the inlet.
As part of management efforts, the town is also doing annual measurements on the beach profile, which provides important data on erosion rates, which is accessible to the state for management efforts.
At the deep-draft inlets at Morehead City and Wilmington, Rudolph said an issue of importance is the U.S. Corps of Engineers policy on disposing of dredged material at the least cost. Carteret County has been at odds with the Corps over policy and wants beach-quality sand placed back onto Bogue Banks.
“So maybe we could use this as a tool to get a better remedy,” Rudolph said.
Input from the meetings will be compiled by Coastal Management staff and used to develop recommendations for the CRC to consider.