Clearing the way for the Legislature to screw up our coast even more:
Some members of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission say they weren't trying to undermine a 25-year-old policy of banning coastal seawalls and jetties Thursday when they declined to support a proposal to keep the ban.
But undermining the ban is likely the impression that many legislators will get after the commission voted 8-5 to send a muddled message to Raleigh.
Before any of you State lawmakers make the assumption that this means terminal groins are not that big of a deal and the ban needs to be lifted, you need to read the U.S. Fish & Widlife Service's assessment (pdf) of the ($300,000) report that drove the Commission's non-recommendation:
It is evident from the 471 pages that the draft report assimilates a lot of information about
terminal groins along the south Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Much of the report focuses on terminal
groin design to "limit" impacts while focusing primarily upon shoreline erosion, economic
analyses, and the effects they may have on shoreline erosion. Furthermore, the authors appear to
conclude that terminal groins are probably acceptable if they are put in the right place with
proper design and construction. This conclusion is quite contradictory to the best available
science regarding ocean inlets, inlet dynamics, and coastal processes.
The report notes that global sea level rise is accelerating, but the document does not consider that
natural coastal processes move barrier islands landward and allow them to exist as sea level rises.
The overwash process contributes to the movement of sand from the beaches to the soundside
marshes. As beach sand moves across the island, it raises the interior of the island and the
estuarine salt marshes. Inlet migration and the incorporation of the flood tide delta to the back
side of a barrier island contribute to the landward movement of the island. These processes
ensure that barrier islands will remain and continue to support important resources as global sea
level increases. Preventing sand from moving landward across barrier islands and blocking inlet
migration create long-term threats to barrier island ecosystems.
The document falls short of a thorough presentation of current literature that would contribute to
a far more comprehensive analysis of groin impacts on the overall dynamic inlet system.
The Legislature should consider this: Maybe, just maybe, the reason the Commission couldn't provide better guidance is partly because the report for which they (we) paid such good money was flawed.
Poor research and the lack of definitive recommendation is not a "green light" to change the law. And if you do change the law, you can add one more item to the list of issues our state may have to fight the Federal government in court over:
Refuge uses are governed by federal law, regulation, and policy that must be applied to all requested uses. Upon receiving a request for a use the Refuge Manager must decide if the use is appropriate and compatible before the use can be authorized through a permitting system. Because of the refuge's experience with the Oregon Inlet Terminal
Groin, future requests for such a use will be found to be inappropriate or not compatible and
there will be no permit authorization for such structures on the refuge.