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CLNS dredging and beach nourishment project making good progress; will run through April; Next Generation on the job

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

Posted on April 15, 2024

The Cape Lookout National Seashore (CLNS) dredging and beach nourishment project is ongoing, and Next Generation Logistics (NGL), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) contractor, is making good progress.

Nick Wilson, public information officer for the county, which initiated the project along with the National Park Service (NPS), said NGL has been granted an extension to work through this month 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.

Joni Dennis, head of the Save Cape Lookout Foundation, which has pushed for the project for years, said she’s pleased.

She goes to the site daily – bringing food to the contractor’s crews once a week – and said Wednesday there is now 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.

As evidence of the popularity of the lighthouse and other historic structures in the pristine seashore, she pointed out that one of her recent Facebook posts had more than 880 “shares” as of Wednesday in a very short amount of time.

Dennis thanked U.S. Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy, who represents Carteret County, for his part in making the project and its completion a reality after many years of effort by the county and the park service.

She also said he’s happy that boaters and fishermen will soon have safe and easy access through Barden Inlet – inside the national seashore and outside it – including the “drain” and the “S turns.”

Fishermen and other boaters have been clamoring for the project for many years. The last time the inlet was dredged was in 1977-78, and significant shoaling has occurred since then, making passage to the seashore difficult for many years.

The areas shaded red show where dredging is taking place.

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

In a news release then, 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 CLNS Superintendent Jeff 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.


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