The Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution on July 18 that calls for terminal groins and jetties along the entire North Carolina coastline.
The resolution says shifting inlets have led to erosion and economic losses. The state’s Coastal Resources Commission, which sets development rules along the beachfront, should respond by allowing the construction of groins and jetties anywhere they’re needed along the coast, the resolution states.
Board Chairman Robert Woodward said the document addresses hardened structures along the state’s coast, instead of just in Dare County, to support other coastal communities dealing with similar problems.
“We want to support our other localities as well,” he said. He said the board sent the document to the North Carolina General Assembly; U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, a Republican whose district includes Dare County; and both of the state’s U.S. senators.
Groins and jetties are very controversial. Both are built perpendicular to the shoreline and are usually made of rock or sheet metal. Groins, which are really small jetties, can be effective when combined with regular beach re-nourishment at curbing erosion at a particular location, but the structures can worsen erosion elsewhere on a beach. The longer jetties, on the other hand, are designed to lock an inlet in place and keep it from shifting. To be effective, jetties must be built on both sides of an inlet. Jetties and groins are expensive to build and maintain.
The Oregon Inlet Task Force requested the resolution, Woodward said, and it had been discussed at past board meetings.
The commissioners created the task force, made up mainly of local watermen, in 2013 to advise the board on ways to keep the navigation channel in the inlet open. The task force has supported dual jetties as the solution to stabilize the shifting channel. The Army Corps of Engineers proposed such a plan in 1970, but Congress never appropriated the money. After decades of debate, the federal government dropped the idea as being too expensive and environmentally damaging.