The North Carolina Coastal Federation strives to work with — not against — the natural processes of North Carolina’s barrier islands. Rising sea levels, storms and efforts to engineer the natural functions of our coastlines threaten habitat and public access. Using hardened structures like terminal groins as a means of erosion control is costly, and states that have used these structures are now dealing with unintended erosion and degraded natural beaches and habitat.
North Carolina’s beaches and inlets are some of our coast’s most valuable environmental and economic assets. Our ability to use the beaches and inlets is a basic public trust right that we all share. The state’s constitution specifically states that preserving our beaches is part of our common heritage and the responsibility of state government (North Carolina Constitution, Article XIV, Section 5).
We continue to evaluate constructed terminal groins for adverse effects, as well as to oppose the construction and permitting of new terminal groins, especially in communities where residents and visitors have expressed strong opposition. We will also educate people on why these structures are so damaging.
Opposing a harmful erosion control method is not enough as rising sea levels encroach on North Carolina’s beaches and as more people move to the coast. Therefore, we will help develop and promote long-term barrier island management strategies that make them more resilient to climate change and less hazardous places to invest. We will also continue to work with local governments to secure funding for dredging long-established navigational channels, as well as support the use of dredged sand where appropriate for beach nourishment projects.