The National Park Service has approved a plan to issue a special use permit to Dare County to use a privately owned hopper dredge to perform maintenance dredging within Oregon Inlet.
In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, the park service adopted an environmental assessment drafted by the Army Corps of Engineers for their Section 404 permitting of the Clean Water Act, which the park service was a cooperating agency, according to a news release Thursday from the park service.
“This plan is important to support safe navigation for commercial fishermen, charter boats, the Coast Guard, and recreational boaters that use the inlet on a daily basis,” said Superintendent of the National Parks of Eastern North Carolina David Hallac. “It will allow Dare County to assist the Army Corps of Engineers in the maintenance of the federally authorized channel.”
The entire project corridor is about 2,300 acres, including the ocean bar and Pamlico Sound channels and the nearshore disposal area at the north end of Pea Island, according to the park service.
A 15-day public review and comment period for a draft Finding of No Significant Impact, or FONSI, for the adopted assessment was in May and the FONSI was finalized June 11.
Oregon Inlet is within Cape Hatteras National Seashore boundaries. The Corps’ regulatory control over the project includes the dredging and discharge of dredged material in the Oregon Inlet corridor and disposal areas as a federally authorized navigation channel.
Dare County needs the special use permit to use the privately owned dredge under the same conditions as the Corps for maintenance dredging of small or isolated regularly occurring shoals in Oregon Inlet.