Recently a client who is thinking about moving to the beach asked me some questions about Outer Banks beach nourishment. This common question deserves some explanation since beach nourishment and erosion has been an issue for so long. Old timers here will tell you about the long walk to the ocean from their Kitty Hawk ocean front cottage. In some parts of Kitty Hawk those cottages were lost to erosion close to thirty years ago. Frank Stick also addresses the movement of the shoreline in his 1958 book The Outer Banks of North Carolina 1534 – 1958.
The beach does not uniformly erode. Some areas of the Outer Banks have more beach now than they did thirty years ago. By regularly measuring where vegetation starts you can tell how fast the land is eroding or accreting. Vegetation does not grow on the beach because of the impact of the salty ocean water. The area where the hardiest of plants start growing along the beach is called the first line of vegetation. For decades, North Carolina has been surveying where that first line of vegetation starts. The public can view those records on a state web site.
Beach Nourishment’s Purpose
Stopping erosion has become more of a business decision since homes and businesses now occupy most of the Outer Banks coastline. Even losing a small beach cottage will result in an annual loss of thousands of dollars in revenue from ad valorem and occupancy taxes. That local tax revenue will never return from that property. Studies have shown that losing these properties would cost more money than beach nourishment costs.
Where is there nourishment?
Since 2011 the Outer Banks the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head have nourished their erosion prone areas. Dare County has also nourished erosion prone sections of Hatteras Island. Some towns have created municipal service districts to help pay for a portion of the nourishment. Where these districts occur property owners near the ocean pay a larger portion of the cost. Occupancy taxes, (our visitors), pay for a significant portion of all nourishment projects.
Nourishing a beach is like cutting your lawn. It has to be done periodically. Nags Head’s initial project was completed in 2011. As of early 2019, some homes in South Nags Head are again close to the ocean. Eight years is pretty close to the life expectancy of that 2011 nourishment project. The nourishment in some other areas of Nags Head is still in pretty good shape.
If you are looking for more details about a specific Outer Banks beach nourishment projects then contact Scott Team Realty and we’ll share our experiences with you. Dare County has details on when and where they will be taking place. Here’s a link to their web site Morebeachtolove.com.