In the spring of 2020, after several years of planning, construction began on a living shoreline at Whittaker Pointe in Oriental. The Whittaker Pointe peninsula serves as the primary defense for almost 300 town buildings, businesses and residences against waves and surge from the Neuse River during storms and routine high wind events. Unfortunately, over 15 acres of the peninsula’s shoreline has eroded away through the years. This erosion has accelerated recently due to the passage of numerous hurricanes including Florence and Michael, quickly threatening exposure of the town’s infrastructure to the elements. The purpose of this new living shoreline is to protect the peninsula from future storm damage and restore lost marsh habitat.

Shoreline erosion prior to the new living shoreline construction.

Local geologist, Jim Blackerby, and Towndock.net brought forth the issue and need for a solution to the attention of Town officials, residents and businesses as well as the federation. Town Manager, Diane Miller, immediately recognized the importance of Whittaker Pointe in protecting the town and its infrastructure, and wanted to implement an effective, environmentally friendly and long-term solution to stabilize the shoreline. She, Mr. Blackerby, and Lisa Thompson, Harbor Waterfronts Advisory Committee Chair and manager and dockmaster of Sea Harbour Yacht Club, worked with federation Coastal Scientist Dr. Lexia Weaver to secure funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Coastal Resilience Fund to build a living shoreline. Ms. Miller also worked to secure multiple matching funds from the Golden Leaf Foundation, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

“The Town is extremely grateful to the partners who have signed on to assist with the restoration of the Whittaker Pointe shoreline, and is excited about the progress already being made on the construction. We look forward to enjoying the protection afforded residential and commercial properties and the enhanced environment for fish and other wildlife that will once again make the restored Pointe their home,” said Ms. Miller.

Construction begins on a new living shoreline in Oriental, spring 2020.

The living shoreline was designed by Quible & Associates, P.C. from Powells Point, NC with structural engineering support from Gary Greene Engineers from Raleigh, NC. The living shoreline is being constructed by Carolina Marine Structures, and will consist of granite rocks placed parallel to the peninsula’s shoreline. The granite, from Wake Stone Corporation, is being transported to the site by Double A Hauling, Inc. Loose and bagged recycled oyster shells will also be placed by volunteers and Restoration Systems to protect the Whittaker Creek side of the peninsula and the site will be planted with native grasses and sedges.

The living shoreline will slow down and reduce the impacts of waves, thereby restoring the marsh habitat that was lost and reducing further erosion. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the summer 2020.