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CLNS dredging and beach nourishment project by Next Generation Logistics making good progress, expects to end mid-May

There’s now more than 100 yards of sand between the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and the water, thanks to beach nourishment.

Posted on May 8, 2024

The Cape Lookout National Seashore (CLNS) dredging and beach nourishment project is ongoing, and Next Generation Logistics (NGL), contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is now dredging the “drain” and the “S turns,” with work expected to be complete by May 14.

NGL was granted an extension to work past the normal April 15 deadline. That deadline for dredging and beach nourishment is intended to limit the likelihood of encountering threatened and endangered birds and sea turtles.

The project has been slowed by inclement weather, especially in the early stages after the crews and equipment arrived onsite in January, and then by equipment problems.

Joni Dennis, head of the Save Cape Lookout Foundation, said Thursday she’s thrilled by the results, which have added more than 100 yards of sand between the iconic Cape Lookout Lighthouse and the water at high tide.

“I’m just so thankful,” she said of the work, which should protect the lighthouse – a structure near and dear to the hearts of countless Carteret County residents and visitors from around the world – for many years. “I’ve had tears in my eyes.”

In November 2023, USACE announced that the contract had been awarded to Next Generation Logistics for $6.9 million.

CLNS Superintendent Jeff West said Thursday all is looking good, but the next step, to keep the sand in place in front of the lighthouse, will be crucial, and that project is probably at least a year away.

There have been discussions about building a living shoreline – oyster beds or rocks and natural sea grass plantings – but West said there are concerns a living shoreline would limit boat access and swimming. There are other options under consideration, he said. The dredging of Barden Inlet, he said, will surely change things.

In a news release last year, the county said the cooperative effort between the USACE, the county, the state and the National Park Service (NPS) “reflects a commitment to safeguarding our environment and maintaining vital access to the Cape Lookout National Seashore.”

It was a complicated process to get to this point, and the park service had to give the USACE $5 million to pay for it.

Due to the majority of the channel lying outside CLNS, the NPS needed partners to get Barden Inlet dredged. The park service formed a cooperative management agreement with county commissioners and the Carteret County Shore Protection Office in 2019 with the purpose of establishing and maintaining waterways to various areas in the park, according to West.

County and NPS officials then negotiated with both state officials and the USACE for the dredging effort. In the process, they found the last environmental assessment for the Barden Inlet channel was in 1975, which West said was “way out of date,” and it had to be updated.

Shoaling in Barden Inlet became a serious problem in late 2017. West said Thursday he’s been told the U.S. Coast Guard will eventually replace the Barden Inlet channel markers, which had removed because of the dangerous shoaling.


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