February 22, 2016
NPS is one step closer to issuing permit
for Buxton beach nourishment
By IRENE NOLAN
(This article corrects one that was published on Friday and that said the NPS has issued a special use permit.)
National Park Service on Friday announced that Stan Austin, director of
the Southeast Region of the National Park Service, has signed an
environmental document that gets Dare County one step closer to getting
a special use permit to nourish beaches in north Buxton within the Cape
Hatteras National Seashore.
Dare County has asked the Park Service for the permit to pump
sand onto 2.9 miles of beach in the area to protect Highway 12 from the
encroaching Atlantic Ocean.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) that analyzed two action alternatives
was released for public comment in September 2015. On Friday, Austin
signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which clears the way
to issue the permit.
The FONSI comes after preparing the EA in collaboration with the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers. The chosen alternative will allow placing sand
during the summer -- hopefully this summer -- and also includes numerous mitigation measures to avoid and minimize impacts to natural resources.
Mitigation measures and other required conditions associated with NPS
consultation with other state and federal agencies, will be detailed in
the special use permit.
Copies of the EA and the FONSI can be found on the NPS Planning,
Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at
At a Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, Feb. 15, Dr. Tim
Kana, of Coastal Science and Engineering, the company the commissioners
hired to plan the project and get it permitted, gave the board an
update on the project.
The plan is to nourish the beach between the Haulover area north of
Buxton and the old site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with 2.6
million cubic yards of sand that would be pumped from a borrow pit
about 1.8 miles offshore from the old site of the lighthouse.
Kana said Monday that the project is still on schedule for pumping sand in late spring or early summer.
He said that the special use permit was expected to be issued
soon. After it has the Park Service's permit, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers can issue its permit -- the last one needed. That is
expected to happen in March or early April.
After that, the schedule gets really ambitious. Assuming all permits
are received, projects would be put out for bids in early April with
bids due April 28. The commissioners would be scheduled to approve the
contract at its May 2 meeting with a construction agreement and other
documents also finished in May, so sand can be pumped by Sept. 2016.
The project cannot be done after September for reasons of safety and
economy. During the stormy season, the dredging days would be
limited by weather and the project would take twice as long and cost
much more, Kana said.
Kana made reference to the fact that when bids were opened on Tuesday,
Feb.9, for three projects on the northern beaches, all were
considerably over budget and none could be done in the summer months
because of the high demand for dredges. Those three projects are going
to be put out for bid again soon.
Kana offered hope that the Buxton project would be small enough for
some dredge company to "fit it in" among its other summer projects or
that the combination of the three town projects plus Buxton would be
large enough to get the attention of a company that would be willing to
do it in the summer.
"I know there will be a lot of people disappointed if we can't do it
this summer," Kana said, "but as you found out last Tuesday when bids
were opened...it may be beyond our control."