OCEAN – On Thursday, Nov. 8, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and partners awarded a $1.1 million grant to the federation for the ‘Living Shorelines for North Carolina Coastal Communities’ project that will benefit communities in Carteret and Pamlico counties.

Federation Coastal Scientist Dr. Lexia Weaver will lead the two large-scale living shoreline projects. For these projects, the federation will be partnering with the Atlantic Community Harbor Authority, Carteret County and the Town of Oriental.

The two living shoreline sites are at Atlantic Harbor, a community harbor Down East in Carteret County, and a town shoreline and harbor entrance in the Town of Oriental.

“These living shorelines will protect and restore the shorelines that protect the entrances to these two community harbors,” said Dr. Weaver. “Living shorelines have proven to be much more effective for erosion control in storms than bulkheads and we’re happy to bring them to Atlantic and Oriental. The harbors are crucial to the communities’ economies and ways of life.”

Atlantic is a small Down East community and the harbor is a part of its identity and economic and environmental lifeblood. It is the community’s only commercial harbor and its entrance is eroding several feet per year, with significant additional erosion during hurricanes.

“This project will go a long way toward protecting Atlantic’s way of life and providing this part of our community with economic stability. It also provides valuable habitat for the fish and other seafood we need to prosper,” said Eugene Foxworth, Carteret County assistant county manager.

Oriental is known as the sailing capital of North Carolina, so its harbor is a crucial part of town infrastructure. Previous hurricanes—including this year’s Florence and Michael—and other major storms have eroded the entrance to Oriental’s harbor several feet per year. Florence and Michael greatly accelerated the erosion, putting the harbor and the community it protects at risk. The erosion endangers the marina and almost 300 town buildings, businesses and local residences.

“The Town of Oriental is extremely grateful to Dr. Weaver and her staff for their untiring efforts on our behalf to secure funding to complete the Whittaker Pointe project to protect the residents, businesses, primary nursery waters and our shoreline in an environmentally sensitive way that is the best solution for all,” said Diane Miller, Oriental town manager. “We are excited to get moving on the project and look forward to working with all of the partners that have assisted and will continue to work toward the best solution.”

Through this grant, the federation will work to naturally stabilize and protect the eroding shorelines at both project sites by constructing living shorelines tailored to the specific site characteristics. The living shorelines will also help maintain existing navigation channels, prevent flooding and build marine habitats at the locations. The protection of both Oriental and Atlantic Harbor will enable the towns to continue to thrive economically and protect commercially and recreationally important fish, shellfish and other wildlife.

The grant, made through the National Coastal Resilience Fund, comes given that these funds will be matched by $997,464 from the Town of Oriental, Carteret County and state and private contributions to the federation. This grant funding will pass through the federation to support on-the-ground work in these coastal communities by hiring local contractors in order to support the local economy.