National Park Service has issued a notice of intent to prepare a draft
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Dare County's plan to nourish
the beach in north Buxton.
January 8, 2015
NPS proceeding with environmental
study on Buxton beach nourishment
By IRENE NOLAN
The notice, which was filed in the
Federal Register on Dec. 29, begins the public scoping process for the
Environmental Impact Statement that is required by the Park Service
before it issues a special use permit to the county to pump sand on the
eroding beaches in the area.
Meetings to get input from the
public on the county's plan and the EIS are tentatively scheduled for
Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Manteo and Wednesday, Jan. 28 in Buxton. A
public comment period will also begin soon during which comments will
be accepted in writing.
More details on the meetings and submitting public comment will be available soon.
County plans to nourish 2.3 to 2.7 miles of beach in front of the
motels and other private property in north Buxton in order to protect
Highway 12, which is frequently overwashed in even minor storms.
August, the county Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to contract
with Coastal Science & Engineering (CSE) of Columbia, S.C., to
manage the restoration project at a cost of $1.68 million. Under
consideration are design plans for both five- and 10-year projects at
an estimated to cost between $20 and $27 million.
proposed an ambitious timeline that would have sand being pumped onto
the beach from an offshore borrow area in the summer of 2016.
of the project will take place on land owned by the Park Service, which
is why the county will need a special use permit from NPS to proceed.
to the Park Service's notice of intent, the EIS will assist the NPS in
determining whether, where, and under what conditions the agency would
issue the permit.
Although the Park Service generally opposes
beach nourishment to address erosion, it has said that it will consider
the project proposed for north Buxton to help protect the highway and
keep it open.
According to county manager Bobby Outten, CSE is
already working on writing both the EIS and an Environmental Assessment
(EA), which is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. CSE, he
said, is working with the Park Service and the Corps as it prepares
Authorization and permits from other state and federal agencies will also be required, and Outten said the county is meeting
regularly with all of them to keep the project moving along.
One of those meetings was today in Washington, N.C.
Commissioner Warren Judge, one of the county officials who attended and
gave an overview of the plans, said he remains "encouraged" that the
project is moving forward in a timely manner.
"I am encouraged that no one there stood up and waved a big 'stop' sign," he said. "The comments were mostly positive."
the public meetings later this month and the end of the comment period,
all comments will be addressed and a final EIS prepared. It will also
be submitted for public comment before it is final.