The Beach Recovery Foundation Declares a State of Emergency for Hatteras Island

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Press Release

Buxton, NC – The Beach Recovery Foundation (BRF) today declared that a breach of Route 12 just north of Buxton is imminent, which the BRF predicts will result in a new inlet, sealing Hatteras Island off from the rest of the Outer Banks.

According to a July, 2013 study presented to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, entitled “Hatteras Island Economic Impact,” in 2011, tourism generated $204 million, accounted for 2618 jobs, and contributed to $10.3 million in state taxes and $9.4 million in local taxes – most of it during the summer months.  A shutdown of the island would therefore have a severe impact on the entire state of North Carolina.

The BRF has determined that the erosion of Hatteras Island is man-made – not “nature taking its course” – and is thus reversible, stemming from the constant dredging of the Oregon Inlet. However, the BRF does acknowledge the importance of the fishing industry and is striving to find an environmentally friendly way to allow it to continue to thrive.

We urge North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to declare Hatteras Island a disaster area so that the necessary federal and state funds may be allocated to beach nourishment and other measures that will protect the area for as long as possible until a permanent solution can be researched and implemented.

According to Western Carolina University, North Carolina has carried out 221 beach nourishment projects totaling $617,223,415 in 2012 dollars and covering 1,131,163 feet. Of that, only seven were done on Hatteras Island, with a total cost of $11,415,909 in 2012 dollars, and only covering a mere 5951 feet. Worse, the last beach nourishment project dates all the way back to 1973 – 41 years ago.

The BRF reminds everyone that evidence of human presence at the Outer Banks dates back to 11,000BC. The island predates Plymouth, MA as the first English colony. It is therefore one of America’s rare historical and environmental treasures that must be preserved regardless of how it came to be in its present state.

About the Beach Recovery Foundation, Inc.

The mission of the Beach Recovery Foundation is to a) create awareness of, and b) seek out and fund research and development solutions designed to remedy man-made coastal erosion directly attributable to the construction and maintenance of navigation inlets. The Beach Recovery Foundation firmly believes technology exists today that can de-energize wave energy allowing a) sand from a dredge to be stabilized, creating a much longer-lasting result, and b) sand at the near-shore to be perpetually accreted.

One of The Beach Recovery Foundation’s campaigns is “Save the Banks,” an outreach program to find ways to preserve and protect the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Please find us on the web at and on Facebook at The Beach Recovery Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non for profit organization. All donations are tax-exempt.

Spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a supposed long-term bridge bypass solution for the constantly eroding Pea Island in the Outer Banks is akin to planning heart replacement surgery on a sick patient instead of first trying to cure him/her of the underlying illness. Replacing the existing Bonner Bridge will stabilize the patient – the beleaguered residents of the Banks — and allow for plenty of saved money to be used to research a cure for the underlying erosion of Pea Island and the Banks in general. The end result will be renewed traffic flow through to Hatteras, a healthy Pea Island, and plenty of leftover money to spend toward additional conservation of the entire region.

It is no secret that the Outer Banks are eroding at an alarming rate. However, as this problem is largely man-made, namely the constant dredging of the Oregon Inlet, it is reversible. Specifically, every time there is a dredge, it sucks more and more coastline into the giant hole that is created. So to say this is all nature’s doing, deal with it, is absurd.

There are those who argue that money spent on the Outer Banks benefits tourists and a relative few North Carolina residents. What they fail to recognize is that barrier islands are just that–barriers. If the Outer Banks were to suddenly disappear, a large stretch of the main coastline – way more populous and built-up than the outer banks – would get smashed instead. The cost would not be in the millions, but many billions. Furthermore, the three million tourists who flock to the Outer Banks each year bring in significant tax revenue for the entire state.

Then there are those who consider our shorelines as playgrounds for the wealthy. While the coast is for sure a desirable place to live, save the entire U.S. going under water, there will always be a coastline regardless of who decides to live there. At some point we do literally have to draw a line in the sand and protect our shores from hurricanes the same way we routinely protect our houses from earthquakes or tornadoes. Restoring dune structures and the natural bathymetry of the ocean bottom through accretion engineering would not just stabilize the beaches, but also naturally dissipate strong wave energy, allowing sand to be deposited on shore, not be carried out to sea.

In 1999, geologist Richard L. Watson prepared a study for the state of Texas chronicling the enormous loss of sand from the Bolivar Peninsula off Galveston Bay resulting from the creation of the man-made Rollover Fish Pass. His recommendations to reverse this man-made problem, which concurred with ‘every scientific and engineering study for 40 years’, were ignored. In 2008, with nature’s defenses eroded away, Hurricane Ike knocked 99.5% of the structures off their foundations, destroying most of them. If we allow hundreds of millions to be spent on a long bypass bridge in the Outer Banks instead of on reversing erosion, in the near future the bridge may be the only structure left standing, leading to nowhere.

The Beach Recovery Foundation does not pretend to have all the answers. However, we do recognize that, like the Bolivar Peninsula, the Outer Banks are at a critical danger level where something needs to be done short-term, in addition, not instead of, something being planned for the long term. We also recognize that the Outer Banks is truly the first British Colony, not Jamestown, and therefore its value to US history, let alone the state of North Carolina, is priceless. We therefore truly cannot comprehend how any proud North Carolinian would ever want to see the Outer Banks fade into the sea-at least without a fight.