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Beach nourishment is a consistent and necessary aspect of life along the coast, specifically in southeastern North Carolina. Projects are used to build back dunes or berms lost during storms and through natural erosion, to replace and widen existing beaches, and to protect the communities and infrastructures along the shorelines. Additionally, forms of nourishment may be used to deepend and widen the paths used by cargo ships as they travel up the coast to the ports of Wilmington.

While most projects are coordinated during the off season and/or outside of turtle nesting season, Margaret Rudd & Associates is aware that current projects could impact our guests' vacation plans. Here, you will find information on current or ongoing Oak Island beach nourishment projects. Use this resource and the links provided to help when planning your perfect beach vacation to our beautiful Carolina shores.

**Please note that the best way to ensure that the projects are completed in a timely manner is to please stay clear of all work zones. Please do not walk over the dunes. Our responsibiity as residents and visitors is to help ensure that the dunes do not experience negative impacts which could significantly alter their protective nature for our coasts.

On-going Oak Island Beach Nourishment

Lockwood Folly Inlet Widener Project
lockwood folly inlet sand redistribution

  • What: Approximately 70,000 cubic yards of sand and sediment is to be dredged from the inlet crossing area in addition to 90,000 cubic yards from the bend widener. This project will assist in making the inlet more passable and the redistributed sand will help reinforce the coastal structures at the west end of the island.
  • When: Mobilization of equipment is scheduled to start January 25, 2021 with dreding and pumping starting January 30, 2021. The project should be complete with demobilization of equipment by March 5, 2021. The Town has listed a full end date of March 31, 2021 to allow for any weather or equipment breakdown issues.
  • Where: Sand placement on the beach will start at the west end of the island (The Point) and continue to approximately Kings Lynn Drive (subject to change depending on final dredged volume and beach conditions at the time).
  • Possible Guest Impacts: Could include construction noises or disruption of direct beach access due to construction vehicles or sand piles blocking public beach access points. Guests oceanfront and 2nd row may experience nighttime illuminations. Parking could be limited.

For more information, please visit the Town of Oak Island Public Works page.

2020-2021 Renourishment Project
oak island sand nourishment map

  • What: Aimed at removing sand and sediment from coastal offshore areas to redistribute along the island to reinforce the dunes and berms and to widen the existing beaches
  • When: Start date of January 25, 2021 with an end date of April 10, 2021
  • Where: Sand placement and work zones are expected to start at the SE 63rd Street and head west toward 1909 E Beach Drive (between the 22nd Place East and 19th Place East accesses). There are 2 additional alternative paths which could take the work all the way to 101 E Beach Drive, or Middleton Avenue.
  • Possible Guest Impacts: Could include construction noises or disruption of direct beach access due to construction vehicles or sand piles blocking public beach access points. Guests oceanfront and 2nd row may experience nighttime illuminations. Parking could be limited.

For more information, please visit the Town of Oak Island Public Works page.

Short Term Oak Island Beach Nourishment

Post-Hurricane Isaias Clean-Up & Dune Restoration Project

In August 2020, Hurricane Isaias barreled through Oak Island. While the storm was responsible for minimal overall property damages, it significantly impacted local sand dune structure and the oceanfront, essential to wildlife, beach access and to the area s a whole. In September 2020, an emergency dune project began but was paused to accommodate the 2020 sea turtle nesting season. Once the nesting season ended, the projected re-started. Displaced sand was placed at public beach accesses and side streets until it was sifted and redistributed along the island.

Sand Sifting and Redistribution Project
oak island nc sand sifting & redistribution project time lapse

  • What: Displaced sand from the Post Hurricane Clean-Up was placed at public beach access, side streets and empty lots along the island. The displaced sand had to undergo a sifting process prior to being redistributed along the island. As of January 26, 2021, 1,400 truckloads of over 40,000 cubic yards of sand had been returned to the beach.
  • When: Start Date: December 1, 2020; End Date: End of January 2021
  • Where: Sand placement began at Middleton Avenue and is expected to proceed west along the existing dune line to approximately 33rd Place West (or until the sand runs out).
  • Possible Guest Impacts: Could include construction noises or disruption of direct beach access due to construction vehicles or sand piles blocking public beach access points. Parking could be limited.

For more information, please visit the Town of Oak Island Public Works page.

Do's and Don'ts to Help Dune Restoration:

  1. Do not walk on the dunes (this includes walking over to access to the beach)
  2. Do not dig in or around the dunes
  3. Do not cut walkways or paths through the dunes
  4. Do not leave trash on the beach
  5. Do remove all gear from the beach by 8:30 PM each day

The Oak Island Police Department is empowered to enforce the ordinance through civil citations of up to $500 per offense.

Frequently Asked Questions: Beach Nourishment Projects

Beach nourishment is a consistent and necessary aspect of life along the coast, specifically in southeastern North Carolina. The process helps build back dunes and berms lost during storms or natural erosion. It also replaces and widens our existing beaches. It is vitally important in protecting our community and infrastructures along the shoreline. Specifically for our area, forms of beach nourishment may be used to deepen and widen paths used by cargo ships as they travel up the coast to the ports of Wilmington.

What is beach nourishment?

Beach nourishment is the process of replacing sand and sediment lost due to erosion and storms. Sand and sediment is dredged from areas offshore and pumped or placed per an engineer's plan. It creates and/or helps fortify the necessary dunes and berms for protection of the coastal area as well as widens the beaches to help reduce further storm damage. In addition, it provides larger beaches with much more space for guests to enjoy!

What is the difference between a dune and a berm? 

A coastal dune is a landform created with wind- or water-driven sand typically found in the shape of a mound, ridge or hill. While they may be found in different shapes and sizes, the dunes typically run parallel to the shore and are an important in the protection of the coastal area. 

A berm is typically the area of beach located on the oceanside of the coastal dune. It is an area of the beach commonly used by vacationers.

How does beach nourishment works to protect the area during a storm?

Per the US Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division Website, "Coastal engineers expect that large storms will induce sediment transport from the nourished beach and move sand offshore. When this happens, waves begin to break farther from the shoreline, thus weakening their force before they reach the shoreline itself. In this way, beach nourishment projects help protect dunes and property from further erosion, decrease flooding, and limit how far ashore storm surge will go. A wide, flat beach berm with a sufficient volume of sand keeps the erosive power of the waves from reaching and destroying the dunes and structures and can reduce damages significantly from waves, inundation, and erosion. Without beach nourishment, the starting point for damage would be farther onshore; a nourished beach, with sufficient sand volume and healthy dunes, absorbs the storm's energy, even during slow-moving storms, and helps prevent damages to structures and infrastructure."

How beach nourishment works when a storm comes ashore

North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (2021). How beach nourishment works when a storm comes ashore. Retrieved from https://www.nad.usace.army.mil/Media/Images/igphoto/2001018727/ 

How long does beach nourishment last?

The answer to this question varies. Natural erosion and storms are a fact of life along the coast, specifically in Oak Island and Caswell Beach. As a result, beach nourishment is an ongoing effort for our areas. Typically the Town of Oak Island and the federal government will work to coordinate nourishment efforts during the off season so as to limit the interference with our area vacationers and seasonal guests. In addition, certain projects must be coordinated for a timeframe outside of turtle nesting season due to the area's designation as a protected nesting habitat. Projects range from a few weeks to mutiple months dependent upon the nature of the project and the size of the area to be nourished. 

Will the beach nourishment project affect my vacation?

Simply put, it may. Projects vary in time frame and location along the island. Some projects could affect a guest's entire stay while others may only cause a 2-day interference. It just depends.

If you are traveling to the island, and staying in an area where there is a potential of an active work zone then you may be affected by the nourishment project. During dredging projects, work may occur 24 hours per day, 7 days per week with active sand pumping. Other projects like sand sifting and redistribution may only occur during normal business hours. You may experience interruptions in direct beach access, construction noises and nighttime illumination.

  • Direct Beach Access Interruption: This mainly affects guests who are oceanfront or 2nd row. (Example: If the project does work in a 1,000-foot area then that 1,000-foot area will be blocked to the public including any direct access within that zone. Ramps and walkways are typically installed once the work zone passes so that guests may access the beach going over the pipeline which remains on the beach until the entire project is complete.)
  • Construction Noises: Equipment is used to dredge the sand from the coastline and pump it on to the beach. Dumptrucks and other construction vehicles are then used to push the sand to recreate the dune structures and to flatten the wider beach areas.
  • Nighttime Illumination: If the work is a continuous process, you may experience illumination from construction lights and spotlights during the night shifts.

Typically, projects move quickly and as soon as an area is completed, the 1,000-foot work zone proceeds down the island. 

What should I expect if I travel to an area directly affected by a nourishment project?

  • Beach closures may be possible on a larger or smaller area scale. Current project plans will only affect the beach in 1,000-foot active work zone sections for a 2- to 3-day period. Every 2- to 3-days, the closure will move to a new 1,000-foot area down the beach until the entire planned area has been nourished. Sections that have been nourished will opened to the public following the 2- to 3-day period of work). Typically the area includes a smaller area to either side where guests will notice temporary fencing in place to prevent the public from entering the work zone. 
  • Public ramps/walkovers will be installed approximately every 500 feet after an active work zone has passed. These ramps are installed over the existing pipeline as it will remain on the beach until the project is complete. Direct beach access from oceanfront and/or 2nd row properties may be inaccessible during any project. MRA cannot guarantee direct beach access during beach nourishment projects.
  • Beach accesses outside of the active work zone may experience increased traffic and crowding due to the additional visitors being diverted from active work zones.
  • Public parking may be limited. The additional visitors diverted to open beach accesses could cause heavier traffic at the open accesses. In addition, the Town uses some open accesses and side street parking to store sand when they plan to sift and redistribute it. (*Please be aware of public parking rules and regultaions as MRA cannot be held responsible if your car is towed or citations received for violations.)
  • Temporary construction noises, beeping and/or back-up safety alarms of construction equipment
  • Equipment lights and spotlights used during the evening hours

What does this mean if I have rented an oceanfront or 2nd row home where work is occurring?

Please refer to the "What should I expect if I travel to an area directly affected by a nourishment project" question above. You may experience temporary disruption in direct beach access while the active work zone passes in front of the property. As work continues, the zone will pass by the home. 

While MRA understands the inconveniences this may cause, please note that the situation is out of our control and controlled by local, state and federal governments and agencies. Should you have questions, please contact us at information@rudd.com.

Are any beach nourishment projects planned/happening on the island in 2021?

Yes. Listed below are the current projects. For up to date information on current and upcoming projects, please visit the Town websites by using the buttons below this active list.

Sand Sifting & Redistribution Project

  • Aimed to sift and redistribute displaced sand following Hurricane Isaias. Sand from this project was diverted to public beach accesses and side streets along the island. It was then moved, sifted in lots and redistributed down the island.
  • Expected to be over by January 31, 2021/February 1, 2021.
  • For more information on this project, visit https://www.oakislandnc.com/residents-visitors/beach-information/sand-du....

Lockwood Folly Inlet Widener Project

    • Aimed at widening and deepening the Lockwood Folly inlet
    • Start Date: January 25, 2021, End Date: March 31, 2021
    • Dredging project managed by US Army Corps of Engineers
    • Sand placement and work zone starting from the west end of the island (The Point) to approximately Kings Lynn Drive (subject to change per final dredged volume and beach conditions)
    • For more information on this project, visit https://www.oakislandnc.com/government/sand-redistribution-projects.

2020-2021 Renourishment Project

  • Aimed at building dune and berm lines along the island
  • Start Date: January 25, 2021, End Date: April 10, 2021
  • Dredging project managed by US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Sand and sediment dredged from coastal offshore areas, pushed through pipelines and placed in work zones starting at SE 63rd Street beach access heading west to 1909 E Beach Drive. Additional alternate placements could take project as far west as 101 E Beach Drive or approximately MIddleton Avenue.
  • For more information on this project, visit https://www.oakislandnc.com/government/sand-redistribution-projects

TOWN OF OAK ISLAND TOWN OF CASWELL BEACH