Figure Eight Island Homeowners Reject Rich Inlet Terminal Plan

The Figure Eight Island Homeowners Association Board of Directors announced last week that its membership has denied a proposal to build a terminal groin at the north end of the island, a project that would have likely increased erosion on other parts of the island.

The proposed project would have included a $7.5 million groin made of sheet metal and large boulders and would have required regular beach nourishment.

The Homeowners Association Board has been pursuing the costly project for more than five years even though no oceanfront houses are threatened by erosion.

Conservation groups have argued for years that the wildlife habitat and recreational beach at Rich Inlet is far too valuable to destroy with the proposed groin and that much less destructive, and cheaper, alternatives are available.

“The homeowners have made a decision that is not only better for the environment, it’s better for their pocketbooks,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“Rich Inlet is one of the most stable inlets in North Carolina and for most of its known history has contributed to a growing beach on Figure Eight Island. Following this vote, the Homeowners Association should pursue less expensive alternatives that address the short-term, infrequent periods of erosion the island experiences by working with nature rather than against it.”

The proposed groin would have eventually eliminated nearly a mile of recreational beach and wildlife habitat north of its proposed location. That portion of the island provides essential habitat for sea turtles, piping plovers, red knots and numerous other shorebirds.

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